Artist Eliyah Mesayer (b. 1987) lives and works in Copenhagen. She graduated from the Jutland Academy of Fine Arts in 2020.
Working within several expressions Mesayer’s practice is primarily expressed through an alchemical tradition, especially that found in the treatises of Jabir ibn Hayyan (721-815), better known as Geber – The Father of Chemistry.
Inspired by Gebers multitude of processes for investigating and exposing the principles of it’s subjects, one outlet is her mesmerizing alchemical works on paper, where she creates visual interferences by combining chemical processes with light. However, Mesayer’s alchemy isn’t limited to these formats, but also extends itself into poetry, installation and performative works. Like Geber, Mesayer works as an alchemist in search of chemical reactions between different poles. She is merely interested in the transformation when the two meet rather than the translation of the singular.
A focal point for all of these is the fictional state Illiyeen, a state for the stateless, which both engages Mesayer’s heritage, but also seeks a form of alchemical change by artistically balancing itself on the dynamic threshold between reality and fiction as well as fact and imagination. It is the language of alchemy understood in its very broadest sense, including and inviting its audiences to become part of the alchemical reactions themselves.
Daughter of a Bedouin mother, Eliyah Mesayer was raised in the desert until the age of five. For centuries the Bedouin nomadic and tribal traditions have been the only inhabitants in the desert regions of North Africa to the Middle East and Mesayer always equated the notion of home and belonging in her childhood with the sense of traveling and wandering, rather than the rootedness most other children equate belonging to. However, Mesayer’s childhood suffered a radical change as a consequence of the Gulf War in 1991, which forced her and her mother to seek refuge in Denmark.
Being of stateless origin Mesayer was only able to be granted Danish citizenship at the age of 30 in 2020, and the obstacles she has met throughout her life because of this manifests themselves throughout her work.
Continuously seeking a positive change Mesayer has also founded The Mesayer Foundation, which she, her collaborator Galvin Harrison and Brigade Gallery, donates part of the proceeds of their art to. The foundation’s main objective is to provide free legal and consulting services to stateless people and help them obtain the citizenships that will afford them the rights they have been denied so far.
On 20 January 2022 Eliyah Mesayer will open her debut exhibition ‘The People Who Came From The Sea’ together with collaborator Galvin Harrison + T.N.G at Brigade.