Abdulaziz Safar Ali (aka Teddy) is in charge of the Drama and Acting student clubs at ACK. This choice of profession is a clear testament to the fact that we can select a field that aligns our internal and external worlds.
Teddy is a also a guitarist and well-known photographer. Here, we get to unveil the man who embodies what it means to honor one’s calling.
Recently, you have shelved playing the guitar. Is this permanent or simply because you want to focus on photography for now?
Well, I haven’t left the music life for good, but I am not as involved. Now I play the guitar in my free time or when it’s required. I think a person who focuses on a lot of things will not be a professional in any of them; so, for me to grow as a photographer, I decided to put everything aside and focus on my photography. However, I don’t neglect the other things and still practice from time to time.
You once said that you do not like to take photographs indoors. What is about the outdoors that appeals to you – as both a human being and as a photographer?
Indoor photography limits me in terms of which photos to take and how. Sunlight always gives me exactly what I need in a photo. It could also be because I started as a landscape photographer. I became more attached to the outdoors and sunlight. The feeling of summer heat and shivering in the winter cold.- those things can’t be felt indoors.
As a human being, I’m a person who enjoys activities; I’m not someone who loves sitting in a quiet place and relaxing all day. I go to the sea on a weekly basis during summer, and being on the road or having long walks during winter is thrilling. So what’s not to love about outdoor photography?
How did you find a job that actually resonated with you, in a world where most people look for money first and then job satisfaction?
People look for what satisfies them. The problem, nowadays, is that things are measured with the value of money. It’s the way most people are raised to think, but I was not looking for job satisfaction. I was looking for a place where I wake up every morning able to get out of bed, have my coffee, ride my car and go to work with a big smile on my face. I still think money is important, but not as important as enjoying what I do. That’s why photography or being around talent became what I do for a living.
Herber Marcuse once said: “Art cannot change the world, but it can contribute to changing the consciousness and drives of the men and women who could change the world.” Since you are constantly surrounded by artists, and are one yourself, do you find that the art scene locally is creating a shift in our consciousness?
Being surrounded by artists and being a part of the art scene since 2002, I have seen a lot of changes in artists and in the community. Actors resort to method acting to really get into character; and in some cases, they never leave the character. The line is sometimes blurred. Musicians aren’t that different either. They also get affected by the style of the music they play, and you see them change the way they dress, talk and do things. Artists start changing what they draw according to the community’s changes. Small changes affect things slowly throughout the years.
Now we can see music events or art galleries all around Kuwait. Peoples’ consciousness changed with the changes in music and art. For example, in 2009 and 2010, people in Kuwait began hosting theater events, music shows and art gallery exhibitions related to the environment. We can see the effects of that, now, since many people are living green lifestyles and becoming more eco-friendly. That is just one of the many influences of art. It is a domino effect and begins with art. So, yes, art creates a shift in consciousness.
Though you are known as Teddy, you recently joined The Afterthought as their band manager where you have earned the nickname – Grizzly On Steroids. Tell us more about your new nickname and why you were (and still are) known as a bear!
I have been known as a bear since 2006. The nickname was given to me in jest – as I was super fat. It’s an Arabic nickname: dabdobe, which means teddy bear. My friends heard it and started making fun of me too. In time, it became who I am and I like it. It changed to Teddy and now I’m called Grizzly On Steroids because I work fast. Teddy is the most famous nickname, and I like it the most.
When most people hear that “Teddy is here”, they expect a tiny guy and are shocked when a six-foot guy walks in. Yeah! Teddy is here!