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Raja’a Khalid: SS22, FW22/23

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Over recent years, Raja’a Khalid has been exploring the colonially derived eco-cultural commodity network that looms large behind the present-day wellness economy. She has done so through art and olfactive (or scented) installations, performance, and collaborations with wellness practitioners. Through her work, Khalid aims to cast a sideways, comical yet critical glance at the present-day commodification of health and wellbeing. Born and raised in Dubai, her practice is especially concerned with the Arabian Gulf region and its narratives of work, consumer culture, and commodity circulation.

For 84 STEPS, the artist presents a newly commissioned environment that is designed to hold a variety of social activities and activations. Comprising painted walls and a newly created olfactive work, titled SS22, FW22/23, SS23, furthers Khalid’s inquiry into trend forecasting within the wellness industry. Her research is informed by trend reports released annually that set out the colors, objects, and imagery determined to be in vogue for the coming year.

Khalid’s analysis of wellness trends is influenced by her observations on the “commodification of the esoteric.” Khalid explores these ideas through the use of scent as a form of the corporate branding that calls upon bodily sensation and ideas of health. The works SS22, FW22/23, and SS23 will unfold in each season of 84 STEPS with a new forecast set of color, scent, and light.

Last year, SS22 saw the gallery painted in ‘Olive Oil’ color, forecasted as a comforting and reassuring tone in times of cautious optimism. With this, the artist paired a scent mimicking a forest full of Cypress trees. Following this the gallery was re-painted with FW22/23, which introduced a ‘Honeycomb’ hue, relating to a forecasted attitude of positivity, desire for luxury, and emphasis on the preservation of agriculture for future generations.

This season, the gallery has been adapted again with SS23, where the gallery is painted in ‘Digital Lavender’. The color was chosen due to its association with the mental health and wellbeing rituals, that many of us have developed throughout the pandemic. The hue is accompanied by a nostalgic seascape scent that drew inspiration from seaside holidays, blue planet campaigns, and the return of the cruise holiday.

This commission was made possible through the artist’s close collaboration with Air Variable, California.

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