Farida Sedoc has been making art in various capacities for two decades. Her work has always been a response to political and social issues; all that’s changed are the mediums she uses to explore them. From printing her first controversial T-Shirt to the Black Lives Matter poster she recently designed for the Stedelijk Museum, she’s taken her time to find her creative feet, spreading the word about the causes close to her heart as she goes. She tells Alex Kahl about the stories behind some of her favorite projects.
When Farida Sedoc began to print T-Shirts with a friend, their first design had “Fuck the police” written across the front in Arabic. “Coming out of angry teenage years, we were just working with our intuition, and the T-Shirts were always subconsciously a reaction to what was going on around us,” she says.
“Amsterdam in the ‘80s was a pretty rough place,” Farida recalls. “Lots of drugs, sex and alcohol. But the main thing I remember were the protests.” Farida grew up in a turbulent decade for the city. Squatting was becoming prevalent as a form of protest against the shortage of housing in the city. The Dutch Squatters Movement (or Krakersrellen) gave rise to violent riots in the year of 1980. Watching these political and social issues unfold, Farida learned that her very existence in society had to be political. “We learned to always react to things,” she says.
Her T-Shirts would explore police brutality, Islamophobia, and even the controversial introduction of the Euro in 1999. “It was all about having a voice,” Farida says. After 10 years of printing T-Shirts, Farida’s practise had stopped growing, and was actually getting smaller.
She stopped screen printing on shirts, and started to do it on canvas, and for a decade has been creating work across multiple mediums. “My greatest disappointment was not being able to create this big streetwear brand,” she says. “But it was also a blessing. I felt I was being ignored in fashion. In retrospect, giving it up gave me time to think more about the work.” Up to that point, although Farida’s work had explored political and social themes, it had been very intuitive. “I started to hang out with friends who were artists, and noticed they were busy having conversations about content, instead of focusing on the product or the outcome,” she says. “I started to consider the meaning of my work more. Asking myself questions like ‘What is your work about?’, ‘what does my voice mean?’ and ‘what do I want to share with the world?’’”
These days, Farida works across different mediums, from graphic design to collage to textiles. She feels it doesn’t matter what she uses in her work, as long as she’s responding to the context and the content. “The subject matter was never random. I thought it was, but it wasn’t,” she says. “I can just have a proper conversation about it now. 20 years ago, I’d say I just screenprint stuff. Now I have the words to explain why I do it.”