Detroit Performs

S10 E6 | CLIP

Bana Kabalan

Interdisciplinary Lebanese-American visual performative artist Bana Kabalan is profiled.

AIRED: June 16, 2020 | 0:05:11

(slow music)

- I'm here with visual

and performative artist, Bana Kabalan.

Bana how are you doing?

- I'm pretty good. How are you doing?

- I'm doing very well, thank you.

So where did you grow up

and can you tell us just

how did you get your usual creative side

to express your thoughts about the world around you?

- So I grew up in Metro Detroit.

I'm Lebanese-American first-generation

and my parents wanted me to mainly do the science route.

And at the high school that I was in,

we could use an elective for art.

And so I did that

and then found myself really loving both biology and art.

Being Lebanese-American,

being first-generation,

whenever I was in the US growing up,

I didn't feel super American,

I always felt like there was this disconnect.

And then when I did go to the Middle East,

I always don't feel Arabic enough.

But where am I?

There is no really this middle ground.

And so I found that what's for me to do,

and for me to feel this sense of home,

was to really just create it myself

and to embellish it

and decorate it myself

and use aspects of things that I like

and things that inspire me.

And I found that really working with Arabic elements,

Arabic motifs, somethings like that really added to it.

And then using this natural elements also

was what made me feel like

I had more of a deeper understanding of myself.

Because I also study ecology,

I'm constantly looking around, questioning,

making different questions and hypotheses

about why things are occurring

and if different habitats and ecosystems.

And so, in the same way of

exploring as an artist

I'm looking around thinking,

what can I collect here?

What is this habitat have for me to make

and incorporate into my artwork.

So it's this curiosity of nature

that really drives me

with both my practice in science

and then also my art practice.

- And then so can you tell us just a little bit more

into what your art medium is.

And why do you choose to express yourself in those ways?

'Cause it's very sculptural

but also something that you can wear, which is really.

- I really was fascinated with just creating spaces and

installations that you could go into.

Like creating this other worldly experience

but then kind of forget about the outside world.

Just this kind of safe space area.

And so I started off doing those installations

and then thought well why not go further and wear them

and perform in them

and create these different organisms

and things like that

that you could embody.

My creative process is first what I do is

I collect a bunch of stuff,

lay them out

and just usually make a mold.

I get wire that I usually find

to just create the structure of the piece.

And then just start attaching things,

see what types of shapes morph out of it.

And I typically like the pieces

to just be something that evolves as I'm working on it.

I want people to feel comfortable

when they're in the spaces that I created.

Or in the performances that I have

removes oneself from whatever space they're in

or whatever dynamic they're in currently

and then puts them in a new place.

And I think that that's what

the purpose of my artwork

always was for me to just have these like

areas of feeling comfortable

when dealing with childhood trauma,

dealing with other aspects of my life

that was negative.

What I find solace in

is just creating this world around me

and I really want other people to experience that.

- What do you think an artist's responsibility is

in creating social change?

- Specifically for me,

I choose to talk about

experiences that I have

being a child of immigrants.

My parents immigrants from Lebanon.

So incorporating this dynamic of like the bridge between

(mumbles) the east like that.

So I also incorporate my environmental issues

that I think are very important.

So I think that as artists,

to express oneself,

and in the lives that they have

and the experiences they have is important.

With the movement, the Black Lives Matter Movement,

it's I think important to have their voices heard.

I think it's really important to

collaborate with these artists,

represent them,

mention them,

have the community learn more about their experiences.

- And then just looking ahead,

what does the future look like for you?

- I definitely want to keep going with ecology.

I really hope that.

The more things that I learn with my research,

the more I will incorporate and really enhance my artwork.

And it will be the select feedback loop of

what I'm learning from both practices.


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