Sama Alshaibi’s multimedia work explores spaces of conflict and the power struggles that arise in the aftermath of war and exile.
The artist is particularly interested in how such clashes occur between citizens and the state, creating vexing crises that impact the physical and psychic realms of the individual as resources and land, mobility, political agency, and self-affirmation are compromised.
Through video, photography, and installation, Alshaibi positions her own body as an allegorical site that makes the byproducts of war visible.
Born in Basra to an Iraqi father and Palestinian mother, the artist is based in Tucson where she is Chair and Associate Professor of Photography at the University of Arizona.
The artist was awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholar Fellowship (2014-2015) as part of a residency at the Palestine Museum in Ramallah, where she developed their education program while conducting independent research. Alshaibi received two national teaching awards and granted the title of ‘University of Arizona’s 1885 Distinguished Scholar.’ The award acknowledges outstanding mid-career faculty who are both leading experts in their fields and highly valued contributors to the teaching, research and outreach missions of the University of Arizona.
Solo’s include: Silsila (Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, 2016), Collapse (Ayyam Gallery, Dubai, 2015), Sand Rushes In (Ayyam Gallery, London 2015), vs. Him (Lawrie Shabibi Gallery, Dubai, 2011) and Zero Sum Game (Selma Feriani Gallery, London, 2010). Prominent biennials include FotoFest International Biennial (Houston, 2014 and Abu Dhabi, 2015), Honolulu Biennial (Hawaii, 2014) and the 55th Venice Biennial (official Maldives Pavilion, 2013).
Her group exhibitions include The Arab American National Museum (Michigan), Busan Museum of Art (South Korea), Photo Shanghai (China), The International Symposium for Electronic Art (U.A.E.), Edge of Arabia (London), Arab World Institute (Paris), Headlands Center for the Arts (San Francisco), Barjeel Foundation (Sharjah), The Bronx Museum (NYC), Exit Art (NYC), Mana Contemporary (New Jersey), Paris Photo (Paris) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Denver).
Her 34 time-based works have screened at numerous film festivals, including Mapping Subjectivity, MoMA (NYC), 24th Instants Video Festival (Mexico), Thessaloniki International Film Festival (Greece), MADATAC 6th New Media Festival (Madrid), CinemaEast Film Festival (NYC) and DOKUFEST (Kosovo).
Aperture Foundation (New York) published her first monograph, Sama Alshaibi: Sand Rushes In (2015). Inspired by the nomadic traditions of Bedouins and the writings of fourteenth-century Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta, the monograph depicts the artist’s five year journey through the significant desert areas and bodies of water that connect North Africa and West Asia to the Maldives. Alshaibi is exclusively represented by Ayyam Gallery.