Tarek Al-Ghoussein (1962-2022) was born in Kuwait. The child of Palestinian exiles, Al-Ghoussein also spent part of his youth in the United States, Morocco and Japan. He received his BFA (Photography) from New York University in 1985 and his MA (Photography) from the University of New Mexico in 1989. Al Ghossein was a documentary photographer and photojournalist as well as a professor and Director of the Master of Fine Arts degree programme at NYU Abu Dhabi.
Al-Ghoussein’s work explored the boundaries between landscape photography, self-portraiture and performance art. Evocative photographs depicting abandoned spaces and objects examine both personal and general associations with the Middle East. His photographs of deteriorating buildings do not seek to glamorise the decay but neither are they a detached form of documentation. In these somewhat sardonic works, Al-Ghoussein lingers on the traces of human presence and the attempts to create expressions of individuality within an unsatisfactory habitat. He captured images of places and objects that will soon cease to exist, preserving the narrative of the spaces and their former inhabitants.
Al-Ghoussein’s solo shows include: Odysseus, The Third Line, Dubai, UAE (2021); Al Sawaber, The Third Line, Dubai, UAE (2017); K Files, CAP Kuwait, Kuwait (2017); K Files and Sawaber Series, Nevada Museum of Art, USA (2016); K Files, The Third Line, Dubai, UAE (2014); E Series, Kalfayan Galleries, Athens, Greece (2011); and A Retrospective: Works from 2003-2010, Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah, UAE (2010).
His work has been shown in a number of group shows including: Theatre of Operations, MoMA PS1, NY, USA (2019-2020); Negotiating the Future: 6th Asian Art Biennial, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung City, Taiwan (2017); The Creative Act: Performance, Process, Presence, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, UAE (2017); Presence: Reflections on the Middle East, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Center for Visual Art, CO, USA (2017); View from Inside: Contemporary Arab Photography, Video and Mix Media, Emirates Palace Gallery, Abu Dhabi, UAE (2015); FotoFest 2014 Biennial, The 15th International Biennial of Photography and Photorelated Art, Houston, USA (2014); How Green Was My Valley, Whitebox Art Space, New York, USA (2014); Lost in Landscape, Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Italy (2014); Photoquai, Photography Biennial, Paris, France (2013); The Blue Route, Villa Empain, Brussels, Belgium (2013); From Palestine with Hope, Art Space, London, UK (2013); Safar/Voyage, Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, Canada (2013); Mind and Body, DUCTAC, Dubai, UAE (2013); and The National Pavilion of Kuwait, 55th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2013).
Al-Ghoussein’s works are collected by museums worldwide. The artist lived and worked in Abu Dhabi, UAE.