Daftar Asfar is a collaborative, travelling sketchbook, inspired by the overwhelming collection of sketchbooks in the Brooklyn Sketchbook Library in New York and founded by my friends and long time colleagues, artists Sarah Hatahet, Lena Kassicieh and me.
While process-based sketches, doodles and ephemeral thoughts often take the back burner in galleries and museums, this library paid homage to the intimate, explorative moments found in an artist’s practice. This notion sparked the concept of Daftar Asfar: a sketchbook that would allow artists to explore their own practice while synchronously connecting and interacting with other artists’ work – often artists they had never met before. A yellow sketchbook gifted to me from her former colleague, artist Nasir Nasrallah, became the point of departure which was then circulated amongst artists throughout Jordan and the UAE. Nasir was also one of the artists to later participate in The First Daftar.
From there, The First Daftar traveled around Amman, London, and the UAE, and the sketchbook took on a life of its own, its’ pages filled with the interactive stories, exploratory practices and art of 58 artists and creative practitioners working in different mediums. The travel vessels have indeed varied, from taxis and Ubers, to friends of friends carrying the book in their suitcases, a Tashkeel tote bag, to a flower delivery van.
Through social media, we would often hear from emerging and more seasoned artists alike; the concept of Daftar Asfar seemed to be pioneering a new approach to creative expression using an incredibly simple medium, and these artists were eager to be involved. The project began to grow and evolve organically, and through it, we decided to dedicate our efforts to fostering this platform for celebrating and encouraging interdisciplinary creative collaboration.
Since 2017, we have published 7 sketchbooks both physical, digital and even with textiles. We have collaborated with different organisations, curators and artists to produce sketchbooks with their own unique prompts, directions and styles.