London-based artist Zaki Shanaan discusses his work, exploring and mapping his journey, mental and physical states, from a differently-abled and mixed-race perspective.
In my work, I express, explore and elaborate upon what I see as the reality of my lived experience. My material comes from my consciousness - materials of the mind. As a result of palpable actions, I portray my material in a tangible way. I developed my vision of being trapped, and the escapism alongside it, as physical acts that permit me to grasp for an expanse beyond the struggle. The work behaves as a justification to alleviate past experiences by using a form of escapism.
I was diagnosed with a brain tumour in the lining of my brain stem. My life started to move and shift into a different dimension from then on. When I was four years old, I had an unexplained brain bleed which meant that I was no longer able to walk. I became a wheelchair user. Through my art, I map a way to create my own understanding of my journey thus far and discover my own personhood. My concept is about being trapped, in a mental and physical state, taken from my own perspective as a differently-abled person who is also mixed race.
My experience of living as a so called disabled person has been full of pain and disbelief. This is as a result of the cruelty and judgements of others. My art allows me to embody the conflicts of the negative self. I contain this within the work and through the process. I use this as a vehicle to let myself move on to a more positive space. An additional goal is to connect with those who have any struggles in their life. My art facilitates the voice as a mode of communication from the internal to external world.
I have always been on the outside looking in. In my view, people aren’t as open minded as they potentially could be. The work that I have made, and will continue to make, lets out my inner feelings and emotions by exploring the depths of my inner self, so that I can release and reveal my innermost being. 'Trapped' is a metaphor I use to describe the struggles and the fights that continue to unfold in my life. This is due to the way society has traditionally viewed those who are black and mixed-race, and who may also be a so-called ‘disabled person’.
About the artist:
I was born in West London 1995. My heritage is a mixture of Jamaican,
African, French backgrounds. I use photography, painting, fashion,
silkscreen printmaking, film and any media that lends itself to the layers
of my narrative that I am unearthing on my journey towards a version