born 1984, Saudi Arabia
'Oud Soap', 2015. 24 bars of soap (each containing a different synthetic Oud perfume), soap shipping cardboard boxes (opened)
Raja’a Khalid’s practice is concerned with contemporary narratives of class, luxury, masculinity, material culture, adornment, and authenticity, especially those that connect the Arabian Gulf with the world at large. She is specifically interested in exploring the transnational economic, industrial and ecological circuits that allow certain cultural phenomena to take place. In relation to the Arabian Gulf, she likes to seek out motifs of soft power that reflect on the region’s constructions of heritage and culture. Mediums employed include industrial processes, systems or rhetoric e.g. patents, wholesale supplies, B2B goods and services etc.
For her guest residency at Rijksakademie, Khalid continued her ongoing project on the patented synthesizing of Oud, a dark, resinous heartwood, distilled for use in Middle Eastern perfumery. Intended as a critique on the mass production of Oud, her research during the residency looked at the scent’s obsessive hold as an ‘olfactive signal’ of authenticity in the Gulf. More of her work can be seen here