Deep Space Arts | Going Adrift with Laila Abdul-Hadi Jadallah


I first met photographer and arts organizer Laila Abdul-Hadi Jadallah in 2008 while working at International Arts Artists, where we bonded over photography, art, and politics. She has lived and exhibited her work in Paris, Washington and the Middle-East, in such venues as Studio Gallery, Adah Rose Gallery, Speos Gallery, Baked & Wired, George Mason University, FotoWeekDC and the Gallery at Vivid Solutions. Influenced by her bi-cultural status as a Palestinian-American, her work reflects her constant reproach as to what constitutes home by photographing the places she has lived and the objects within them.I caught up with Laila for an interview last week as she made the final preparations for her solo show, Adrift, at the Gallery at Vivid Solutions. The show opens tonight (1/10/2014) in Anacostia alongside Common Ground, a collaborative exhibition by Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann and Michael B. Platt at Honfleur Gallery.

GB: When and where did Adrift start?

LJ: Adrift started sometime in May 2010 in Morocco where I was visiting my father. The first photograph was taken at about 5:45am on a beautiful day and the trip continued for a week driving around the entire country!

GB: How did your family travels and palestinian heritage influence your use of multiple exposures?

LJ: This body of work has really grown in meaning over the years. When I first began this series I was not fully aware of why I chose to create multiple exposures, but today, they are representative of the changes that have been occurring on the ground in Palestine/Israel and all over the Middle-East. The “Palestine” my grandparents and father were born in, does not exist the way they knew it and even the one I saw a few years ago has already changed.

GB: There is a sense of wonder in your photos that seems to invite the viewer to step into your shoes. Is there a certain emotion or mood you want your audience to experience?

LJ: One of my photography professors in grad. school always told me, once your photograph is out into the world, it belongs to the public. It is no longer up to you how people will perceive it, therefore, I really just hope that people enjoy the photographs, but also reflect on the deeper meaning they represent and find they can relate to it.

GB: Your decision to use gold frames for the photos in Adrift is interesting, especially in the context of migration, freedom of movement, and the arbitrary borders imposed over our lives.. (not a question I suppose, start talking!)

LJ: As a visual person I tend to obsess over strange things, including having to use gold frames for the works. I really wanted to create an ambiance in the gallery space that was inspired by the beauty of the colors and design often found in that part of the world. In the context of migration, freedom of movement and borders, as someone who comes from a place I can’t really go back to live, you have to bring what you can wherever your home is now. I live a very privileged life here in the U.S. and like many children of immigrants, was so fortunate to be raised in a household where stories of where we are from were constant by my grandparents and parents – but no matter what, there will always be this idea of longing for a home and maintaining a connection to it, that is so important. So the ambiance I tried to create, speaks to this idea and I hope it was successful.

GB: How did you get connected with the crew at Vivid Solutions?

LJ: I was lucky enough to be connected with Beth at Vivid Solutions a few years when I used to take my work to be printed at the photo lab they operated. She invited me to be a part of a group show where I exhibited one of the works from this series (not included in the exhibition up now). I had an artist talk a while back with Adah Rose Gallery where I spoke about this series and I was just lucky enough, to have Beth keep me in mind for this opportunity since. I am very grateful for the exposure and it has been very inspiring  working with her and Piper on this show.

GB: Where would you like to travel to next?

LJ:I have never been to South America, so that is pretty high on my list. In terms of this series, I do hope to be able to return to Israel and Palestine and photograph the ever-changing landscape there…

Be sure to catch Adrift at the Gallery at Vivid Solutions. The Gallery at Vivid Solutions is now located upstairs at 1241 Good Hope Rd. SE above Honfleur Gallery.

Opening Reception: January 10, 2014, from 6-9pm 

Exhibit Dates: January 10 – February 28 

Artist Talk: February 1, 2014 at 2pm