Sama Alshaibi is a multi-media artist born in 1973 (Basra, Iraq) to an Iraqi father and Palestinian mother and is now a naturalized US citizen. Her early practice was based primarily in photography, video art and performance. Over the past several years, the scope expanded to include video/object hybrids, multimedia installations and sculpture. Alshaibi has a longstanding history of negotiating spaces of conflict in her artwork: the aftermath of war and exile, the power dynamics between the nation and its citizenry and the interaction between humans competing for resources and power. By employing her position/identity/self, her works infiltrate and confront spaces in which control and domination are the status quo. They expose the hidden forces that police human behaviour, or conversely, cause its rebellion. In Alshaibi’s artwork, issues of war, occupation and exile often share the stage with a female protagonist. Although she frequently uses her own body, she is rarely representing herself directly. The body is a signifier of the nation, the people or the individual negotiating with political and social oppressions. It can embody the violence of authority and tyranny, or it can serve as a challenge to its power. It also reinforces the notion that the body houses the collective and the individual at the same time; it speaks to a symbiotic relationship that forms the human experience towards anxiety or harmony.
Alshaibi has exhibited in over ten solo exhibitions, most recently Vs. Him at Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai (2011) and Zero Sum Game at Selma Feriani Gallery, London (2010). Her recent group exhibitions have included #COMETOGEHER: Edge of Arabia, London (2012), Come Visit Us, You’ll Strike Gold, HilgerBROTKunsthalle, Vienna (2012) The Changing Room, Turin and London (2011 and 2012), Corps Dévoilés (Body Discovered), Institut Du Monde Arabe, Paris, France (2012), Alienation, Maraya Art Center, Sharjah, UAE (2012), Breaking Ranks: Human/Nature, Headlands Center for the Arts, California, USA (2011), The State, Traffic Gallery, Dubai, UAE (2010) and Hiwar at DARB 1718, Cairo, Egypt and Le Violon Bleu, Tunisia (2010). She has also exhibited at the Bronx Museum in NYC, USA and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, Denver, USA. Her time-based works (video art and films) have screened in numerous film festivals internationally, including Mapping Subjectivity, MoMA (NYC), 24th Instants Video Festival (Mexico), Thessaloniki International Film Festival in Greece, CinemaEast Film Festival in NYC and DOKUFEST in Kosovo. Her works have been collected by public and private institutions collectors internationally including Nadour (Germany), the Barjeel Collection (Sharjah), the Rami Farook Collection (Dubai) and the upcoming Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Tunis (Tunisia). Alshaibi is currently Associate Professor of Photography/Video Art, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA.