The instinctive practice of artist Amina Saadi

We delve into the practice of Brussels-based KASK masters student Amina Saadi, whose work takes from daily observations and a intrinsic and instinctive curiosity to suggest a narrative steeped in, as she describes it, “something more ‘real’, something more current.”

At its core, what is your work about? What is its starting point and statement?

At this stage my work questions created identities and memories within a certain territory. I’ve always been inspired by daily life, whether that’s on the streets or in the subway. When starting my master at KASK, I wanted to merge my graphic practice with something more ‘real’, something more current, that’s related to life. That’s when I decided to link my work to a place, with a research process and a documentary approach.

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Can you talk to us about your approach in general? What characterises your work? How do you actually work on a piece, from start to finish?

I solely work instinctively. Observation and curiosity are primordial to me. Everything starts with details, small remarks, short stories,… I thus chose to work around my personal environment, the one in which I live. Versailles offers something unique, but people either don’t care or don’t notice. For many, Versailles is an area characterised by social housing projects, and problems. A lot of problems. My approach turns around the area’s identity, yet goes further than the purely visual. I try to give a clear view of the neighbourhood’s social identity, linked to its architecture, which created the area. For me, I had to be present, meet people and experiment in order to understand and visualise certain defining aspects of Versailles. All of these elements come together and are given a new dimension thanks to different graphic tools. I’m quite a visual person as well, and I believe this becomes apparent through my work.

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Who would you say was instrumental in shaping your artistic practice?

I’d say it’s a bit like Sanam Khatibi mentioned in an earlier interview: my interest for social issues has always been present. Having grown up in Brussels, this interest is constantly nourished. I only didn’t know yet how to translate these observations in my medium, graphic design.

I solely work instinctively. Observation and curiosity are primordial to me.

What are the challenges you face as an artist working in Belgium today?

Versailles II only exists through exhibited objects, publications and my personal accounts. Artistic works with a social impact are very necessary today, and are demanded by the big cultural institutions, yet I think it’s difficult to exist outside of this environment.

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Talk to us about the people around you, your local scene. To what extent does it inspire and influence you?

My inspiration comes from reading, seeing, talking… By the way, I started to think about Versailles City after having read an article in De Morgen about the difference in mentality between Belgium and The Netherlands in terms of domestic architecture. Nonetheless I’ve discovered, through this project, the work of Thomas Hirschorn, Jozef Wouters, Wim Cuyvers and Hana Miletić (whom I equally love as a person).

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What does success look like to you?

I don’t think there’s such a thing as being (un)successful. I don’t conceive a project as a contemplative one, but I equally appreciate what it can bring about amongst its spectators. I presented Versailles City through a discussion table (I got the idea from Maud Van de Veire’s From me to you, presented in Borgerhout in 2016).

To you, what role should contemporary art occupy in the community?

I don’t feel capable of answering this question, as I might not have enough distance or experience. I don’t define myself as an artist evolving in the contemporary art world.

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Which Belgian artists do you follow, look at for inspiration? Either from the past or the present.

I have the memory of a goldfish, which makes it hard for me to give names from the top of my head. Even if I really enjoy the work of certain artists, it’s difficult for me to list them. I’m rather reminded by them while talking about their work in certain contexts.

On a more personal note, how does your everyday inform your work? And what do your parents, your family, think of what you do?

As I mentioned before, my inspirations come from different situations, observations and readings. I love browsing through old books my mother brings home from work.