Johaina Bani Oraba is unlike any other Omani artist you’ve met before. While she looks easy-going and composed on the outside, hers is a mind filled with different ideas that evoke reaction — whether good or bad is up to you.
As a visual storyteller, Johaina thrives on mystery. She trusts the intelligence of her viewers that while she shows them a seemingly incomplete picture, human brains will fill the rest. With her visual artwork, one becomes a detective piecing clues together to understand what was being communicated.
Johaina is a visual tease. Several of her artworks are either headless, limbless or faceless and it is for the absence of these elements that her art and photography pieces become intriguing.
“I want to break free from the traditional restrictions of doing art. This is the beauty of conceptual photography — you can challenge your viewer and take them for a roller coaster ride,” she said.
“My kind of art, it’s an introspection of myself. ‘Who am I? What do I want? What am I curious about?’ These are some questions that come to my mind as I try to understand myself and find the reason for my existence,” she shared.
“I used to reflect whatever I believe and feel through poetry, but I am not brave enough to let other people read whatever I write. I spent a long time finding a medium to express myself, and when writing didn’t do it for me, I ventured into art, especially photography. There was something there that allowed me to express myself through photography,” she said.
Johaina illustrates her idea using conceptual Photography, which is a type of fine art that focuses more on the concept than the content. Johaina said that a photo could tell a story, reflect an emotion, and criticise a situation.
“I had always seen myself as a photographer. Even when I was still young, I was already interested in it. When my mother gifted me with a professional camera, that’s when I became even more interested. Going to Sultan Qaboos University and joining the Photo Society cemented my passion for this endeavour,” she said.
Now, she has gotten better in locking down the message of her work.
“In three of my works, named Expressions, I try to express the emotions and feelings behind the process of writing, playing music, and the missing of a beloved. The faceless theme shows that strong desperation when you go through something in life where you are losing something,” she said.
“What I am doing is that I link the artworks with the human being’s life and take a philosophical approach of presenting them. I take apart what is logical and normal, and creating something that still allows the viewer to understand what the message being conveyed,” she shared.
“My heart sees you” is one of her artworks that won the 39th FIAP Youth Digital World Cup in 2018.
“Most of the ideas and concept I use, I get from my surrounding. I get inspired by the books I read, music I listened, memories, and sometimes the ideas come out of blue,” she said.
Like other photographers, Johaina began her passion as a hobby and ended up making money out of it.
“It is a hobby, but some people convinced me to print my artworks and start selling them. So, whoever wants to buy any of my artworks can visit akwan.art,” she said.
BY RUQAYA AL KINDI