Art and activism come together in full power to the Bay Area represented through vibrant and complex life journeys. If you’re around San Francisco during the next month, from January 25 to February 22, you can’t miss the exhibition The Third Muslim: Queer and Trans Muslim Narratives of Resistance and Resilience that will be held in SOMArts Cultural Center. This group exhibition, co-curated by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Yas Ahmed, gives visibility and a platform for artists whose identities as queer, transgender, gender non-conforming and Muslim have consistently pushed them to the limits of social acceptance.
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.
The Third Muslim: Queer and Trans Muslim Narratives of Resistance and Resilience will be on view from January 25 to February 22 at SOMArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan St, San Francisco.
The Third Muslim Metalmagazine 7.jpg
Saba Taj - Alpha, Delta, Burqa, 2014
The Third Muslim Metalmagazine 6.jpg
The Third Muslim Metalmagazine 5.jpg
The Third Muslim Metalmagazine .jpg
The Third Muslim Metalmagazine 4.jpg
Nabeela Vega - Visiting Thahab
The Third Muslim Metalmagazine 1.jpg
Jamil Hellu - Cloak. 2017
The Third Muslim Metalmagazine 2.jpg
Jamil Hellu - Hide. 2016
The Third Muslim Metalmagazine 3.jpg
Kiyaan Abadani - bedoone onvan/untitled, photographic installation, 2016