//Interview with Caroline Palla

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m a Swiss artist visiting the gulf region for the very first time. The work I did for Alwan338 took the form of an on-site installation around an abandoned majlis. I combined concrete molds, lights and scents to create a set where something new can happen. I tried to lay the groundwork for the place to take on a life of its own. All the elements I used are borrowed from their immediate surroundings. The molds are a reflection of the ornamental recesses in the upper part of the facade. They’re cast in the same materials (concrete and coral stone) used in the majlis structure. Green light is very prevalent here, mainly in a religious context. The scent mixes essential oils of oud and rose, two of the major oriental perfume ingredients.

What themes do you pursue?

In this instance, I pursued my interest in film and production design. Generally speaking, I’m interested in the agency of things that are typically thought of as being passive. In the context of film, such things would be sets, objects/props or costumes, whereas the actors/performers are credited with playing the active part. In my work, these roles are redistributed.

Has Bahrain inspired you?

Very much so. The light between roughly 4 and 6 pm is magical. It made me think of the old Hollywood studio system and the whole reason the studios were set up in that particular geographical location in the first place. I was seduced by the scents, the fabrics, textures and colors at the Manama Souq. I picked up the dizzying building activity in Adliya. Walking around the neighborhood reminded me of the activity on a film set where structures are subject to a constant process of being put up and torn down again, or like a perfect demonstration of Robert Smithson’s notion of “ruins in reverse”, in which construction and dissolution can no longer be told apart.

What was the last residency you were on?

I organized my own writers residency last summer in Maine, funded by two Swiss art foundations.

What are some new works you have lined up?

Organizing a wikipedia edit-a-thon on the subject of art + feminism in my hometown of Zurich, Switzerland. Continue writing my first screenplay for a feature. I’m planning to join a film production as artist in residence and stills photographer to gain on-set-experience. shooting will take place in Tunisia, India, Palestine and in the UK, starting in September. I also co-own a scow with two fellow artists in the Netherlands. We bought it in November of 2012 and have been redesigning and renovating it whenever we find the time. I’m looking forward to living on that boat for a while, traveling and inviting friends on board.

What was the worst and best advice you have ever received?

Best advice in recent years was to quit my job. Worst advice I don’t remember, must have not taken it.