They all come from different backgrounds and parts of the world, ranging from Somalia to Pakistan and Syria, but all of the fourteen artists exhibiting have something in common: the wish to share with the world the transformative power of self-representation through the intersections of Islamophobia, gender-based oppression, and racism (within the mainstream queer community). These artists, who are often denied the right to tell their stories, are finally given a voice. The names include the likes of Ayqa Khan, illustrator; Samra Habib, photographer and graphic designer; Kaamila Mohamed, artist, educator, and TED speaker; and collage-maker Moshin Shafi, among others.
Three of them are the top highlights of the exhibition, though. In their photographic installation, multidisciplinary artist Kiyaan Abadani takes us to their intergenerational trauma, their ancestral memory, and their past and present mingling and bleeding into one another, while playing with the borders of disability, gender, diaspora, violence survivorship and spirituality. In a completely different medium, Saba Taj's deeply personal installation Fuck Veil Art represents the three colourful garments she sowed with her mother before coming out as queer. Artist Jamil Hellu also explores contemporary representations of gay narratives in his piece Hide by showing a man ‘hiding’ behind a headscarf. The work refers to covering up his queer identity for fear, while presenting a duality of being Arab and queer in the current climate of Islamophobia.
The exhibition will start with an opening night celebration on Thursday, January 25 that will count with the presence of two queer Muslim poets and live screen-printing. If you can’t make it, make sure you pass by the talk Queering Islam: A Conversation, a panel that will happen from 6 to 8pm on Thursday, February 8. For the closing, the space will host a storytelling performance by Wazina Zondon and Terna Hamida on Saturday, February 17, from 1 to 4pm.