Dina Haddadin is an architect and a growing self-taught visual artist, living and working in Jordan. Her technique breaks away from traditional painting by using a combination of raw materials of everyday life, unrefined cement, coffee, and ordinary finds on the city streets in her paintings.
Born in 1983, Haddadin completed her Bachelor’s degree in Architecture in 2006, and currently practices her profession in architecture at Symbiosis Designs ltd.
In 2008, she attended a number of courses at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and participated in several local and international exhibitions and workshops since.
Haddadin won numerous international art awards from Egypt, China and France. Her first solo exhibition,'Transit', was in March 2010. Haddadin’s works are part of collections in Jordan, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, New York and London.
JO Magazine | The Empty City
March 16, 2011
Dina Haddadin captures Amman’s transformations using materials from the city’s streets in her latest exhibition at Zara Gallery.
Words by Matthew Davis
Last September while young Jordanian artist and architect Dina Haddadin was working in her Jabal Amman studio, she heard a Caterpillar on top of a neighboring building. It was a building she knew quite well; her grandfather had lived there. And Haddadin watched as, over the course of two days, the building was razed to nothing.
“It was strange,” she says. “And it intrigued me to do something with it.” Thus began her fascination with negative space and, along with her work in architecture, it inspired her latest show at Zara Gallery, Beyond Emptiness.
The sight of construction crews, the sounds of heavy machinery, the gaping holes of carved earth dominate the city’s changing landscape; the dozen or so pieces on display (either black-and-white monoprints or large pieces of mixed media) seek to capture this moment of transformation.
The pieces in Beyond Emptiness reflect that fascination, but they do so in different ways and from different perspectives. The best pieces in the show are the large mixed media creations of what look like construction sites. On pieces of freshly cut wood as the canvas, flat boards move within the pieces toward the horizons and span over deep cut holes in the ground. Charcoal, chalk, coffee (which the wood absorbed rapidly, requiring seven layers), and white and black cement give the images a cool, neutral appearance, drawing attention less to what she has created than what she did not.
“They all extend perspective,” she says about the works. “I want to open up these spaces into these extended perspectives and at some point bridge them to capture the emptiness below.”
Haddadin tried to capture this through the viewers of these changing landscapes. Many of the pieces in Beyond Emptiness are portraits, including a series of black-and-white monoprints that depict large groups gathered by what appear to be fences. These were created out of black ink with whatever materials were available—pieces of cardboard say, to wipe away chunks of ink, or her fingernails when she needed to be more precise. She’s also created mixed media images of a man staring out a window. These portraits work less successfully than the large pieces of construction sites. Without Haddadin’s explanation that they are the witnesses to the change, accompaniments and echoes to the larger pieces, it’s hard to sense what the people are doing or what the artist is trying to convey.
But it raises a tricky question. How can an artist depict all that is physically changing in West Amman?
Haddadin’s answer is, in part, to use the same cement and wood involved in construction to create works of art that depict that very construction, whether from the point of view of the land and buildings that are being transformed or the people bearing witness to it.