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WOMEN OF COLOUR EXPLORING REPRESENTATION

SEEN AND UNSEEN


Curated by Sara Foryame and Amy Dean (adean5@uclan.ac.uk) Presented by Reconnecting Arts www.reconnectingarts.com/seenandunseen Supported by Contemporary Arts Development Group (UCLAN)


SEEN AND

UNSEEN


BINITA WALIA SARA QAED AMY DEAN

MARIEL NO

SAFFA KHAN

SARA FORYAME OLIVIA TWIST

SARA CHOUDHREY

NASREEN JAMAL AL LAIL


SEEN AND

UNSEEN

The show features work from nine female artists of colour, based both in the UK and internationally, exploring thoughts, ideas and experiences on the theme of representation. It is undeniable that people of colour and women in general are underrepresented in the media and society’s consciousness at large. While women of colour are increasingly represented in the gallery space, there are still many cases of misrepresentation and underrepresentation. They are Seen and Unseen. Through mixed media, photography, film and installation, this show brings together a diverse breadth of artists from various backgrounds; engaging in dialogue on how they have been represented and how they would like to be represented. This show presents the complexities of identity, the ways in which collective and individual voices are merged and where an individual often finds themselves a spokesperson for an entire community, not just thinking and expressing for themselves.


BINITA WALIA MODERN WOMAN

www.thespaceinbetween.co.uk The Modern Woman is a series of installations by Binita Walia exploring cultural rebelliousness, gender heritage and women’s sense of duty, making use of performance, video, textiles and everyday objects. In my culture being called a ‘Modern Woman’ is usually because you are viewed as rebellious, dress and style yourself differently, are creative, have boyfriends or simply have an opinion. It is not really a compliment, although I always see it as one. When I was growing up ‘she is so modern’ could often be over heard at weddings and dinner parties describing women who did not fit the expected mould. I use list-making as an artistic process, feeding back and contributing to both personal life and artistic practice. Many people order and manage their complex life through lists. The potency of these lists to express the minutiae of life as an artist, wife, mother and woman is evident and I elevate the ordinary feats of everyday tasks to a higher status by writing them and recreating them in gold. In this new work I am mapping my personal historic and cultural and reference points using relevant mediums to express the ideas that draw on references to domesticity, relationships and responsibilities.

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Binita Walia (born 1971, Kampala) graduated from Edinburgh College of Art 1994 and the Royal College of Art 1997. Living and working in South East London. Walia explores her personal historic and contemporary cultural reference points to express ideas about domesticity, relationships and responsibilities. She started using list-making as an artistic process, feeding back and contributing to both her personal life and artistic practice. Using the potency of these lists to express the minutiae of my life, she elevates the ordinary feats of everyday tasks to a higher status by writing and recreating them in gold. She is attracted to celebrating and elevating the ordinary, mundane and forgotten.


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SARA QAED THURSDAY NIGHT www.saraqaed.com

This collection of drawings was part of Sara Qaed’s MA show in 2015 after witnessing the Arab Spring in 2011 and the participation of women during this period. This artwork reflects the growing action from different perspectives. It embraces the middle parts of stories without showing how it began or how it will end. The female characters shown in these drawings explore many directions of being loud, of dreaming and being tired of the constant struggles they have faced.

Sara Qaed is a mother, artist, designer and a teacher. She practices Art through Editorial Caricatures, Drawings, Clothes and Bags. Sara’s approach to work is interdisciplinary, her artwork is inspired by a variety of disciplines such as Fashion, kids art, Patterns and carvings. She often explores current affairs in the Middle East and the world through her striking cartoons. 3


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SARA CHOUDHREY IN VISIBLE FRAMES www.sarachoudhrey.com

In Visible Frames provides a reinterpretation and re-imagining of the traditional picture frame as a means to evaluate our perceptions and engagement with space, borders, and movement. A redirection of focus, the almost invisible outer decorative frame is a means of representation for those on the fringes whilst offering a lens for conscious awareness of locality for others. What does place mean after displacement? These artworks represent evolving societies, continuity and change. A juxtaposition of material and form leading to an emergent hybrid in both visual and social domains.

Sara Choudhrey’s research-based approach to art practice informs an investigative process of engaging with themes on space, place, border and order. Sara combines knowledge of digital technologies with interests in the construction and application of patterns based on geometry and stylised botanical forms. Through both her research and artworks, Sara raises the question of whether hybrid art presents an affinity to an ever globalising and hybrid society, seeking inspiration through spaces where cultures intersect. Sara’s recent work uses intricate borders from Turkish, Persian and Syrian Islamic artistic traditions as an analogy for geographical and social boundaries. She raises the question of wider understanding of the impact these boundaries have on movement, and the connections we make with people near and far. Sara is currently completing her PhD in Digital Arts in England where she also lives and works. 5


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NASREEN JAMAL AL LAIL HIDDEN COLOURS www.nasreenjml.com Hidden Colours charts my personal identity that is defined by my mix of two different cultural backgrounds, with a Saudi father and Indian mother as well as growing up in the UK. This series explores my attempts to accustom myself to three different cultural identities, while imposed ideas of where I belong or how I should be cluttered my self-perception. My use of colours reveals the hidden emotional journey attached to my experiences and the hybridity of the cultures I grew up with. The images were taken using a photo booth in order to interrupt the space which is used to define identity and produces a conforming, standardised image, which I manipulated. The same image here is changed gradually, in reference to the way my identity is constantly in flux. The colours act as a force or barrier to conceal and reveal the concealed self.

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Nasreen Shaikh Jamal Al-Lail is the founder of Variant Space an art collective that creates a place where Muslim women can express their experiences artistically. Nasreen’s background in Photography (BA) and Photographic Studies (MA) have given her the ability to interact with the fields in-depth. Her work has been exhibited in England and Saudi Arabia; it focuses on themes of self-identity and the concept of ‘flux’ in a globalised world. The ideas of culture, gender, religion and politics are interlaced subtly in her work. For Nasreen, it is about giving access to the collective unconscious, memories and ‘selves’ as seen through the lens of her subjective/objective gaze. Ultimately, Nasreen sees her as the way of life in art, not just a snapshot of a distant thought or endeavour. Her work forces us to ask: who am I and what can I become?


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AMY DEAN THE TRUST PROJECT www.trust-project.eu The EU funded, Horizon 2020 TRUST Project aims to put an end to the exploitation of people in low and middle income countries for research purposes. Two vulnerable populations represented are the San of Sothern Africa and the Sex Workers of Majengo, Nairobi. The influx of researchers to the Kalahari in South Africa has led the community to create their own code of ethics as they hold valuable traditional knowledge that is highly interesting for researchers from around the world. Ten years in the making, on 2 nd March 2017 the San Council launched their own Code of Ethics which generated international and global interest. The Code of Ethics was created so researchers and the media know how to work successfully within the community and to begin a fair knowledge exchange and benefits for all involved. The Sex Workers in Majengo, Niarobi also experience similar exploitation which has occurred over the past 30 years due to possible resistance against the HIV/AIDS virus. This means people with HIV/AIDs virus can be even more desirable in research creating further exploitation. Women working to create a positive change and support for their communities and future generations as part of the TRUST Project is Leana Synder from the San community of South Africa and Joyce Adhaimbo from Majengo, Niarobi. In this short, unseen documentary extract shot in March 2017 by Amy Dean, who is the TRUST Project filmmaker, Leana Synder the Director of the San Council and Joyce Adhaimbo, a Peer Educator in Majengo share their story.

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Amy Dean is a documentary filmmaker, animator and Research Associate for Media Practice at the Faculty of Creative Industries at the University of Central Lancashire.She is inspired and proud of her mixed heritage background and she is particularly interested in themes such as identity, representation and media ethics in South Africa and in Britain. Her work has taken her around the world working with marginalized communities. She works with film, photography and animation to highlight their stories.


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SARA FORYAME ARTIFICIAL IDENTITIES www.sforyame.com

Exploring the personal spaces where history took place. I find passport photos in wallets, in drawers, in photo albums. I find, one, then four, then stacks of them. Images of my mother, my father, some with dates written on the back and short messages they would send to each other when they lived apart. I find more with a three week old girl, it’s me, my mother’s hands under my dress and supporting my then weak neck lifting me up to the camera. I find sets of two, my sisters who are twins; duplicate dresses, duplicate photos. The passport photos are everywhere, yet the memories are distant of the lives I have lived, the places I have dreamt, the stories that are being told. The constant travels and the various identities I have lived, have led to artificial memories. Where is home? And who am I? My identity has been across the world and formed in front of the eyes of others and I cannot recall it. I am the product of the collision between the many cultures that exist in my family and how does a piece of paper, a document define who I am? Should it define anyone? The project explores the personal journey of travel and identity. Death of a Muslim Woman, continues the exploration of the identity of a visable Muslim woman. A scarf on ones neck or handbag has never caused so much controversy than the scarf on ones head. The scarf has become viciously loaded in the media, anchored and reduced to a few words that are regurgitated each time a story is aired. The piece cloth is assigned political and cultural contexts but what we are looking at, at the end of the day is a piece of cloth, threaded and 11

woven together into a form. The project explores how the media sculpts, prods and squeezes the depiction of Muslim women and their scarf that means so many different things to each individual. I remove the woman from the image, making no room for assumptions, and ask the viewer what does the scarf mean now? The media has killed the Muslim Woman, her dreams, and her accomplishments and left the anchored scarf for autopsy.

Sara Foryame is a visual artist who uses imagery, sound and video to explore themes such as identity representation and social politics in particular focus on matters of gender roles, culture and faith. She is an independent curator with a special interest in minority artists and diversifying the gallery space, as well as how art can influence dialogue between different communities. Sara is currently the Head of Projects at Reconnecting Arts, a platform that aims to support emerging Arab artists.


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SAFFA KHAN WHERE IS MY MIND? www.safka.co.uk

Where Is My Mind? : A self-reflection: Daily messy thoughts, terrible habits, searching for answers that no one knows, always collecting, always struggling to let go. A small depiction of my struggles, memories, thinking everything at once. Growth : An identity crisis: Being consumed by self-doubt, constant disassociation, overwhelmed with fear and anxiety.

Saffa Khan is a Pakistani, queer visual artist and zine maker, based in Manchester, creating work surrounding identity, sexuality, mental health & culture, via print and mark making. 13


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OLIVIA TWIST

MEMORIALISING THE EVERYDAY BY GIVING THE MUNDANE ITS BEAUTIFUL DUE. www.yesoliviatwist.com

– It always has been and always will be. There is enough for us all to take piece. Because here is all I know. But, not all I have. They always reminds us that back home our living room is about the size of our whole flat; the dog even has a whole veranda to itself.

Olivia Twist is a London based illustrator who has a definite interest in heritage, oral history and the ‘shock of the familiar’. Twist fervently documents the now and what is real to her to combat the previous archival lack. Twist desires to bring previously untold and overlooked narratives to the foreground. Routine, the mundane and nostalgia are central themes in her work. Olivia’s work is unrepentantly raw, genuine and comprises of a myriad of esoteric layers informed by her love of mass observation and visual ethnography. My love for the ends is thick.

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MARIEL NO www.marielno.com

Christine Pungong, talks about The Realities Of Being A Black Woman With Borderline Personality Disorder, as Mariel No portrays the experiences through illustrations. Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD, is characterised by unstable emotions and relationships, impulsivity, self-harming behaviour, and disturbed thought processes. BPD has always been a complex and controversial diagnosis amongst clinicians. Some (like my old psychiatrist) even refuse to refer to it as a mental illness, and instead acknowledge it only as “a series of maladaptive behavioural patterns.” These people, regardless of who they are, are terribly misinformed. Unlike anxiety or depression, it’s not so easy to pinpoint any exact things that I do, or think, and attribute them to having BPD. It influences every aspect of my life and my reality. It affects all of my actions, interactions, and relationships. It also means I spend a lot of time worrying about how I can ever separate myself from it. What parts of my personality are me as an individual and what parts are just the pathology? Are they one and the same? When your identity is constructed around an illness, you can’t help but ask yourself: who am I without it? For a long time, I thought that a personality disorder was a life sentence, when in fact many BPD patients achieve either full or partial remission within 10 years. Sometimes that feels too long to keep pushing for. At other times it gives me something to strive towards. While it’s been clear to me that I’ve had BPD since 17

the age of 15, I only pushed for an official diagnosis a year ago, when I was positive that I had the physical and mental energy to confidently discuss and advocate for my own health. I already knew from the experiences of friends and family that maneuvering the mental health system as a black woman was tough. You are gaslighted, patronised, ignored, or just completely forgotten about. But still, I naively anticipated that the aftermath of my official diagnosis would bring a wave of relief, comfort, and reassurance. I eagerly awaited the peace of mind. It never came. “The greatest thing I can do for myself in a world that invalidates my experiences, identity, and existence is to love myself fiercely, and care for myself as best as I can” Words by Christine Pungong, read the rest of the article here: www.thefadar.com ( On The Realities Of Being A Black Woman With Borderline Personality Disorder)

Mariel NO is Assistant Arts & Culture Editor at gal-dem, as well as an illustrator and embroidery designer. Her work follows the connection between the personal and the political in sexuality, gender, and race, and utilizes traditionally feminine mediums to explore non-traditional femme identities.


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SEEN AND UNSEEN  

The show features work from nine female artists of colour, based both in the UK and internationally, exploring thoughts, ideas and experienc...

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