Jala Wahid works across sculpture, film, sound and installation. Her work is rooted in archival research into the erased histories of Kurdish history and politics, looking at this both from the perspective of Kurdish writers and historians as well as examining the colonial rhetoric and decision-making that systematically attempted to dismantle Kurdish cultural identity. She then works from that research to make objects and films that articulate what has been erased, acknowledging that this is always a partial articulation that is felled with gaps, echoes and whispers. She often chooses a deliberately joyous or even delirious aesthetic to offer a counter-narrative to colonisers accounts and is interested in the emotive potential of Kurdish music, literature, dance and theatre. In this way her work brings together both politics and poetic expression.


Recent work by Wahid has been rooted in the incomplete and fragmentary archives of London’s Kurdish Cultural Centre as well as more official records archived by the British state. From these archives Wahid has been able to piece together the way that Britain’s relationship and political decision-making towards Kurdistan came about, in particular with relation to oil reserves. Her sculptures and installations embrace the theatrical in a way that belies the complexity of the contested histories that lie behind them. The works are deliberately alluring and sensual in part to reject the coloniser’s dry reasoning that hides decisions made on the basis of economic exploitation, in part to celebrate a cultural identity that refuses to be erased.


Jala Wahid (b.1988) lives and works in London. She received her BA from Goldsmiths College, London, and her PgDip in Fine Art at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. Recent exhibitions include solo institutional shows at Kunstverein Freiburg (2023) and BALTIC (2022-23). She has also had solo exhibitions at CAS Batumi, Georgia (2021) and Two Queens, Leicester (2022) and been in group exhibitions at Centre for Contemporary Arts Goldsmiths (2022); SculptureCenter, New York (2019); Nottingham Contemporary (2019) and Arnolfini, Bristol (2019).