Six questions for
Haoua Habré

Tique asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Haoua Habré.

Artist Haoua Habré
Lives in Currently in NYC, lives in Paris

How do you describe your own art practice?

As an artist, it’s important for me not to want to pigeonhole myself. My practice and myself are evolving, and I dare to hope that what I create today will be different from what I’ll be creating in 10 years.

But to tell you a little more; my art takes the form of installations, works on canvas and photography.

I work with a very specific material: textile.
And I work with it in many different ways, painting, dyeing, cutting and hanging it. For me, this material represents a double skin. A double skin that carries all the memories of the past and history, the scars of time.

Which question or theme is central in your work?

The central theme of my work is identity, more precisely the quest for the “self”. It’s an important subject for me, as I’m of Chadian and French origin, having grown up in Dakar before moving to Paris.

My work deals with the phenomenon of acculturation, the process by which an individual from another country adapts, abandoning his or her own cultural elements. What interests me is this process of transition: the loss of landmarks, the abandonment of one’s identity, and finally the return to oneself. This complicated path finally allows one to be. I’ve chosen to approach it in my work through the idea of deconstruction and then reconstruction, a journey in fact.

Identity is a key issue for all of us, enabling us to anchor ourselves in society and differentiate ourselves from others. The “self”, on the other hand, can hold us back, confining us to certain roles and actions.

I find this paradox fascinating. This idea of having to anchor oneself while at the same time having to detach oneself in order to be deeply oneself.
Destroy to rebuild, deconstruct to become. Deconstruct to become.

My works therefore focus on the process, the procedure, the path that finally allows one to be.

What was your first experience with art?

Oh, that’s a tough one.

I think music and dance were my first contact with art.
I come from a big family, and at different family celebrations, birthdays, Christmas. There would be music and my sisters, brothers parents or aunts would dance!
I remember always being very shy, impressed in fact I’d say. I think I was intimidated by the strength and energy I saw emanating from my loved ones as they danced to the music. There was a power to it.

I was a child in the throes of fascination, discovering Art.

And my shyness, the intimidation I felt towards dance or music reflected an enormous interest, which I later developed. Almost a somewhat sacralized vision of the thing. A precious thing.

Over time, I came to embrace this beauty, which has always been part of me.

If I had to talk today about my relationship with Art. I can’t see my life without it, it’s part of my everyday life, and it influences how I think, reflect, behave, and simply live.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

For me, inspiration is the art of seeing beauty. It’s the art of sensitivity. The power to see beauty lies in breaking away from patterns and trends. Because beauty is everywhere: it’s in the movement of a tree’s branches, in a person’s laughter, it’s in the way we see things.

I try to stay aware and present at every moment of the day, to stop being in my thoughts so that I can pay attention to what’s around me, and thus perceive the beauty that surrounds me. Which, in fact, constantly overwhelms us.

So I’d say that my greatest source of inspiration is the ability to live in the moment.

What do you need in order to create your work?

I need to be myself.
Totally me.
The one I’m in line with and connected to.

What work or artist has most recently surprised you?

Oh, there are so many! I live in Paris and came to New York a month ago to take part in an Art residency, where I met and discovered lots of talented artists. Above all, I was able to open up to an approach to art that’s very different from the one in France.

My favorite would be the “Common Grounds” dance troupe, which brings together 14 dancers from different African countries, for whom Pina Bausch choreographed “The Rite of spring”.

The aesthetic, the movement that emerges is truly magnificent.

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