CHNDY: The Middle East, As Shown By A Middle Eastern Artist

On April 3, La Pietra Dialogues invited Mohamed Al Kindi, known professionally as Chndy, to host a students-only discussion on the filmmaker, photographer, and visual artist’s past and current projects.  Students gathered in Villa Sassetti to listen to Chndy’s insights on art, creativity, and identity. In addition, videos and photography were viewed and reflected upon during the question and answer portion.

Read below for photographs taken from the artist’s website, along with more information about the dialogue.

Chndy was born and raised in Oman, a country he describes as “quiet.” He opened up to NYU students about having no idea what career he wanted to pursue after high school.

According to him, when you grow up in Oman, “art and creativity wasn’t part of your dream.” When he decided to pursue graphic design in college, his mom was against it and told him he would never make a living.

Shortly after finishing university, Chndy quit his job and began traveling. He says he realized that he never wanted to work a 9 to 5 job again. He has been traveling ever since.

There is a saying that your first 10,000 pictures are your worst, so when Chndy first started photography, he took 500 pictures a day.

Chndy credits Youtube for the rise of digital media and filmmaking in Saudi Arabia. There are no cinemas in Saudi Arabia. Satellite dishes have been officially banned since 1990. Five years ago, no one had TVs in their homes. After YouTube was introduced to the region three years ago, people have started making short films around the country. When asked if he was interested in working in TV, Chndy responded “TV is too structured. Youtube gives me a voice.”

While discussing advertising and representation in the Middle East, Chndy claims that foreign advertisers “don’t know anything about the street culture or urban communities” of Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries. He wants to focus his art on the Middle East and increasing representation for everyday, urban aspects of Middle Eastern culture.

Instead of using his platform to focus on international projects, Chndy says “I’d rather shoot things people don’t see. I’d rather shoot in the setting of the Middle East.”

CHNDY will be featured at the Middle East Now festival in Florence. See his exhibition Ali Baba Can’t Be Found Here at FSM Gallery, via San Zanobi, 32r, Saturday, April 8 at 6:00pm. 

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