A Case of Love at First Sight: A Curator’s Perspective

My initial viewing of My Rock Stars Experimental, Volume I was a case of love at first sight. Whatever it was that first drew me to study Islamic art—possibly the unique combination of color and design, the oscillation between abstraction and figuration, and especially the inclusion of Arabic text—is also what attracts me to Hajjaj’s work, which is not only inherently familiar but also terrifically original. It seemed to me that if music videos had existed in the medieval Islamic world, this is how they would have looked and sounded. My Rock Stars Experimental, Volume I merely underscores Hassan Hajjaj’s enormous and universal appeal, making him one of my rock stars.

HHviewers

There is another telling story that goes with the first time I saw My Rock Stars Experimental, which was in 2012 at Rose Issa Projects on Great Portland Street in London. Three teenage boys came in, all of African descent, awkward not only with their newly adult bodies but in being around art, which they explained they needed to see for a school project. They immediately gravitated to the video, relaxed and sat down on Hajjaj’s iconic red plastic Coca-Cola crates, then whipped out their phones and began recording and giggling. They asked and were happily surprised to learn that this was indeed art.

Hassan Hajjaj, still from My Rock Stars Experimental, Volume 1, Helen Venus Bushfire , 2012, Purchased with funds  provided by Art of the Middle East: CONTEMPORARY, courtesy of Rose Issa Projects

Hassan Hajjaj, still from My Rock Stars Experimental, Volume 1, Helen Venus Bushfire, 2012, purchased with funds provided by Art of the Middle East: CONTEMPORARY, courtesy of Rose Issa Projects

I think they immediately connected with the video installation for a number of reasons: it is a familiar format and medium, it is “really cool” (their words), and all of the performers in the video are people of colorperhaps not what the students expected to see walking into a tony London gallery. When I asked them why they were giggling, they shrugged shyly and one fellow said it was because they liked it. It was their reactions—which I recorded on my own phone—that convinced me we had to have My Rock Stars Experimental for LACMA.

Linda Komaroff, Curator and Department Head, Art of the Middle East

3 Responses to A Case of Love at First Sight: A Curator’s Perspective

  1. Melanie says:

    Is it possible to see the actual video? The link on the landing page said it wasn’t loaded. It looks terrific from what I can see!

  2. lacma says:

    The video is on view in our galleries in the Ahmanson Building. The link provided in the post linked to the exhibition website.

  3. Marcia says:

    It was terrific! I just saw it last week. Is it possible to have a list of the artists represented? I would like to buy the music if available. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,074 other followers

%d bloggers like this: