Physical changes to the architecture of a gentrifying urban space can often feel surreal and unnerving. They create a fake form of universal happiness associated with that deadly marketing phrase quality of life. Each incremental shift pushes the self, especially the queer self, to homogenize – something you want to reject, but in time is unavoidable.
At times I want to escape this feeling, which I’ve had growing up in South London. Without meaning to, I turn to capitalist tools to help me shift my socioeconomic status, jumping into higher wealth brackets through dating or sex. It leaves me feeling invalidated at times. But, I subconsciously hope it can land me a property and validate my sexual gender identity. My drawings satire unaffordable luxury living and new urban architecture’s impact on one’s emotional state. I realize even the target of my escapism has been gentrified.
The first real creative forms of expression I remember encountering were the pop music videos I watched when I was younger. There was (and still is) a universal nature to their commentaries on social economy, consumer culture, body image, and their ability to draw out anyone’s emotional baggage. Pop was a surreal form of life medicine on which I used to (and still do) overdose heavily. My own pop music videos document a continuous queer narrative of walking down a fast-gentrifying local high street, internalizing projections from the newly installed objects and architecture.
Come to Second Home, a state-of-the-art family home for the modern living.– Gaby Sahhar, artist's statement
On view at Sweetwater Berlin through Saturday August 10, 2019, is Gaby Sahhar’s SECOND HOME: a multi-media exhibition of mostly works on paper, some delicate graphite drawings on black or white backgrounds, some large, marbly takeovers of technicolor inks covering the Altbau gallery’s walls. The show is semi-autobiographical, informed by Sahhar’s experience of growing up in South London, of socioeconomic status, of sexual and gender identity. These intimacies are the lenses through which Second Home seeks to address the language and evolution of urban life – and urban development.
Videos installed at a crossroads in the exhibition space combine text-based visuals taken right out of High Street commercial signage with atmospheric pop music – the soundtrack to a walk through a changing part of town, perhaps as a person who is changing too, at once part and on the margins of a community in flux. On the subject of walking, Sahhar has appeared in runway shows for brands such as Hood by Air, Vetements, and Yeezy, among other credits as a model and muse. But removed from the universe of fashion – Sahhar’s figures actually appear without clothes, some without flesh at all, as skeletons – the work at Sweetwater is closer to home.
Second Home is on view at Sweetwater Berlin through August 10, 2019.