Shezad Dawood on Fogo Island 'Between Land & Sea'. An interview Shezad Dawood, portrait. Photo credits: Alexander Coggin.

My Art Guides talks to artist Shezad Dawood about his experiences on a residency at Fogo Island Arts where an exhibition of his work, 'Between Land & Sea', is on display until 17 April 2022.

Laura Egerton
Shezad Dawood

Shezad, a lot has happened in the world since you last spoke to My Art Guides (September 2018) and indeed since you completed your residency at Fogo Island(summer 2019). How have recent world events and catastrophe affected your practice and day-to-day working life?

Well I was actually supposed to be back on Fogo in summer 2020 to do the show that’s on now. And my Leviathan project that involves a number of films distributed globally in geographic terms, and looks at the intersections of a lot of the current issues we’re facing like decolonising approaches to the problem of climate catastrophe, initially ground to a halt, before we imagined new ways of working such as remote directing and collaborative film-making. So like a lot of artists projects have been postponed or delayed, and not catching up with friends has been difficult. But I have been able to rethink and reduce my travel and hence my carbon footprint. I’ve also had a lot more time with family, and space to reflect and work without so many looming deadlines which has I think taken the work somewhere deeper.

We featured Fogo Island as a case study in the publication Our Ocean Guide (2017), looking at its unique revival in the wake of the collapse of the Atlantic Northwest cod fishing industry in the early 1990s. Could you tell us your experiences there?

Absolutely magical. I really cannot imagine somewhere more welcoming and more ruggedly beautiful – everything I love. My very first day on island was spent with Ferg Foley, who as a retired fisheries inspector was able to give me a very thorough history of the cod moratorium and its aftermath. I’ve also spent time with fishermen and women on the island, both active and retired, who were kind enough to share their stories and family histories with me. And who pulled me into the social histories surrounding net-making on the island, which became such a point of inspiration.

 Read the full interview on My Art Guides.

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