Creative Fusion – Malaz Elgemiabby / Kent / Sudan

Conceptual Rebellions, Disruptive Lines

Malaz Elgemiabby identifies as an interdisciplinary designer. A disruptor. Elgemiabby’s vast conceptual knowledge combined with an intense and focused passion is what makes her such a compelling artist. It begins in Sudan, where Elgemiabby was born and extends to London, where she studied architecture, to Qatar, where Elgemiabby really honed her practice, ending up with a Masters in Design from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her work and methods have been widely published and exhibited, but you get the sense that the accolades do not motivate this artist—it’s the curiosity to analyze a design problem and learn all she can from each step in the process.  She’s currently a part of the Cleveland Foundation’s Creative Fusion Data Art cohort.

In Elgemiabby’s recent work she began to develop a research methodology she coined “Performative Research Design,” first as the centerpiece of an MFA thesis, and extending out into her current working strategy. While conceptually brilliant, Elgemiabby’s ability to wed aesthetic with cause is what makes her work so compelling. The 2015 work, “The Orphanage of Things: A Narrative of Abandonment” deals with the devastating issue of abandoned children in Sudan. Elgemiabby wrote:

“In Sudan, 110 babies are abandoned in the streets of Khartoum every month. The majority of abandoned children are born out of wedlock. Young women with illegitimate pregnancies are often ostracized by their families and society, and the lack of emotional, financial and legal support has led many to take desperate measures, including the abandonment of their children. Relinquishing mothers exist like ghosts in Sudanese society. The only evidence of the mother’s experience is her anonymous, abandoned child. In order to understand and examine this phenomenon, I used ethnographic performance art informed by design research practice (Performative Research Design). I performed various acts of abandonment to examine the mechanism and psychology of the act of abandonment. I endeavored through concrete, lived experiences to better empathize with the relinquishing mother and create awareness of the wider psychological and social complexities of child abandonment.”

What is immediately apparent when watching the video of the performance is Elgemiabby’s ability to translate stories into high-concept objects, working in an array of mediums from video, to sculpture, to dance and voice, Elgemiabby is able to create an emotional architecture that is so elegant and beautiful that one is almost so transfixed as to forget the devastating subject matter. The piece is often brave, and full of clever metatext that leaves the viewer completely disarmed by the experience. Very rarely does an artist achieve so much so early in a career.

Discovery will be at the center of Elgemiabby’s Creative Fusion projects, but the fire underneath all of her creative and critical output lies in this statement from a news article in July 2018:

“I am a different personality, in fact a rebel against all the traditions and customs that shackle women, favor men and limit the freedom of women.”