Photography Duo Christto & Andrew Mesh Futurism And Colour To Create Impact

By Adam Baidawi
20 May 2019
Zeitgeist, Art, Design, Christto & Andrew
Straddling the Middle East and the West, the duo's work transcends geographical borders.

What happens when the colour palettes of the ’60s and ’70s meet with the modern Middle East? Wild and evocative things.
Adorning exhibitions from Paris to Madrid – and championed by brands like Gucci – the work of Christto & Andrew typifies the new, pulse-quickening wave of creative talent colliding with the Arab world. And, as they explain, this region has more inspiration still to come.

You two are based in different continents. How does your collaboration work?
Our creative process always begins with dialogue and trying to resolve our concerns as artists, both aesthetically and conceptually. Our latest, the Encrypted Purgatory series, was created by planning both material and logistics in advance. For us, the series is a bit of a continuation of each previous project and they visually code our situation as artists, so it is not so complicated when we already know where we want to go with our work. But we owe thanks to technology for making it work.

Christto & Andrew

How did you first meet and decide to collaborate?
We first met in Barcelona, Spain, where we were both studying at the time. We initially collaborated on a university project and things just happened to grow from there. We wanted to start something creative together and started on some video and design projects. Then in 2012, we both decided to move to the Middle East where Andrew had lived previously and spent a large portion of his adult life. We developed a dialogue that encompassed a rather diverse perspective, coming from such different parts of the world. Contrasting our ideas with a fast-changing society is what initially sparked our ambition to be Christto & Andrew, as you know us today.

How do you describe the work you create? It’s wildly surreal – we’re curious if you’ve deliberately a pursued a particular mood?
There is a futuristic trend inspired by science fiction. We do not know if it is the best way to define it, but we do like the use of colour from the ’60s or ’70s. We tend to work with colour, as for us it happens to demystify misinterpreted ideas about the Middle East that come from the West.

Christto & Andrew

You’ve said in the past that your work is inspired, in part, by a kind of futurism you’ve experienced in this region. How does this inform your work?
Maybe it’s the idea of a progressive city, which still retains a traditional culture; the discourse taking place between past and future. Having experienced such a rapidly evolving city made us question our ideas and understanding of time. Everything is in constant construction and gives you the feeling that the future is yet to come. It is difficult to escape from this optimistic idea, or from the vision that something is about to happen.

Many projects here move so fast, it makes you feel that time has been accelerated. Sometimes, this makes you feel like you are part of a simulated reality. We find this particularly interesting – not only as inspiration but also as the backdrop to our work. Then there is also the architectural landscape of the region that plays a big role in creating this futuristic atmosphere.

Our creative process always begins with dialogue and trying to resolve our concerns as artists, aesthetically and conceptually.

What do you think of the current art coming out of the Middle East? Is it underrated? Are we living in an exciting cultural moment in the region?
In the past decade, we have seen some of the most interesting developments in art happening in the Middle East. We don’t feel that it is underrated, but we do feel that there are many exciting projects that are happening, which many people are just unaware of.

Your work is very fantastical. But is it grounded in a reality that you wish to express?
We find our work to be that way, and sometimes it seems a bit silly or humorous. However, when you delve deeper into the subject matter, you will discover that there are some very real and deep meanings within.