“What I do is certainly not traditional,” 23-Year-Old Dana Barqawi answered us when we asked her about her type of art. Dana is an architect by day and self-taught visual artist by night. After graduating just last year, she started searching for her own definition of not just architecture, but womankind and humanity as well. Her graduation project was nominated in Archiprix International Moscow 2013 as the best graduation project of her school, and she wishes to continue studying with a focus on Emergency Architure.
Inspired by “nature, people, social and political contexts”, the young architect has already exhibited her collection (سجل أنا عربي) in last year’s Amman Art Week. Her ‘untraditional’ approach towards projects tackles and addresses subtle everyday issues with sincerity that most may not expect, which might just be why her work is interesting to them.
It’s all about style, and Dana has that in spades. Her “elaborate projects have lots and lots of layers of collage, and yet, when you first look at them, you won’t necessarily notice it at all. You’ll have to come closer.” The collage in her work acts as clues, “like a sort of visual lexical field. Storytelling is a very important aspect of my work”, adds Dana.
Dana’s multidisciplinary work addresses the complexity of social and political issues affecting urban public life. “Whenever I make new work, I like to explore new territories and incorporate elements that may be foreign or new to my field of expertise,” she said as she showed us pictures of her (سجل أنا عربي) collection.
We asked Dana about her design philosophy and her answer was simple: “Do it for a cause,” she paused for a moment, and added “Right now and due to the current social, political and environmental issues the need for responsible art is rising. Solutions to fundamental challenges call for design where everything serves a purpose, one that follows necessity”.
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Dana, as some of her more controversial topics face heat from onlookers, but it seems to only motivate her to proceed with her work. The greatest challenge of all, however, as Dana says, is “is the sense of endless possibility, practically anything can become an inspiration as an idea or a medium of work,” which could be overwhelming in its own accord.
When asked why she’d like to try for a Master’s in Emergency Architecture, Dana emphasizes on the need of architecture in Jordan that is “Responsible, Sustainable, Just and Open.” She debates that Jordan and the Arab world need professionals who will help the people value their already sustainable parts of the society, unlike “buildings in those glossy high end magazines [that] do not really describe the condition of architecture and the livelihoods of people in the world”.
Dana is currently working with Refutrees, a non-profit organization founded by Lamya Hussein. It seeks people-led, sustainable development for Palestinian refugees, helping end donor-reliance through food sovereignty and green, social innovation. It aims to build local livelihoods for Palestinian refugees in the long-term. The organization integrates green innovation with the development of projects fundamentally based on the needs of local communities in collaboration with local resources.
For more information about Refutrees, click here.