2022, fire on paper, handstitched, 30x23 cm

Burned(in)out is a visual exploration of the volatile dance between affection and exhaustion that ignites a dialogue about the sustainability of passion, nudging us to question how we can keep our inner fires burning without getting lost in the smoke.

The artist received a hand-stitched book as an invitation to participate in Cities Under Quarantine, a Dongola | Limited Editions publishing project, to explore the pandemic’s transformative impact on artists and their creative processes. At a time when isolation became the global norm, the invitation came as an invitation to delve deep into the artistic spirit’s crucible, sift through the ashes, and find those lingering embers that might yet burst into flame. Experiencing severe burnout, the artist felt it important to draw attention to not just the art product but the producer. Thus arose the idea: to let the book become not merely canvas but the artist itself, the holder.

In this conceptual frame, the book transcends its physical form to morph into a living, breathing organism. Hidden behind veiled pages, it endures a metamorphosis akin to its creator, symbolized through the elemental force of fire—a duality capturing both danger and vitality, destruction and renewal.

The title offers a dual commentary: the parentheses serve as silent observers of the internal struggle artists often experience, trapped in a cycle that nurtures and depletes their spirits. Much like a star on the brink of imploding after depleting its nuclear core, the work symbolizes the paradox of burning so luminously that we risk becoming mere shadows—or worse, getting caught in a cycle that both fuels and depletes, where our own risk becoming our funeral pyres.

Burned(in)out documentation, curtesy of Dongola Limited Editions

Burned(in)out was created as part of "Cities Under Quarantine: The Mailbox Project," curated by Abed Al Kadiri. The initiative explores the transformative impact of the global pandemic on artists and their creative processes. Inspired by John Baldessari's idea of making art accessible beyond gallery walls, the project acknowledges the significance of personal spaces as both production sites and sanctuaries during lockdowns.

With art institutions closed, the exhibition questions the role of collective spaces in times of isolation. In response, handmade, hand-stitched books were sent to 59 artists worldwide, inviting them to reflect on the present and shared future through their own artist's books. Emphasizing the enduring relevance of the artist's book, the completed works will be compiled into a limited-edition book by Dongola, with hopes for future exhibitions. The project captures the resilience and creativity of artists adapting to extraordinary circumstances.

"Cities Under Quarantine: The Mailbox Project" was exhibited at Villa Romana, Florence, Italy in September 2021 and later at Mathaf, Doha, Qatar in October 2023. More information are available at www.dongola.com.