OPENING: Saturday 24th July – 30th September 2021 AT: Greatmore studios, 47 Greatmore St, Woodstock, Cape Town Also ONLINE on MASHŪRAH ARTS YouTube
MASHŪRAH ARTS LAUNCHES ON THE 24TH OF JULY 2021 AT GREATMORE STUDIOS WITH ITS FIRST EXHIBITION TITLED MASHŪRAH. THE SHOW INVESTIGATES MUSLIM VISUAL CULTURE, THEORIES OF KNOWLEDGE, NARRATIVES, AND HISTORIES IN THE CONTEXT OF SOUTH AFRICAN ART.
Exhibiting artists: Shukry Adams, Mishkhaah Amien, Kamyar Bineshtarigh, Sahlah Davids, Rushda Deaney, Hasan and Husain Essop, Haroon Gunn-Salie, Faheem Rhoda Jackson, Laylaa Jacobs, Mahmudah Jaffer, Atiyyah Khan, Gulshan Khan, Shameelah Khan, Hanna Noor Mahomed, Nyambo Masa Mara, Nabeeha Mohamed, Rahimah Ismail Rajiwate, Abdus Salaam, Achmat Soni
The exhibition’s title MASHŪRAH مشورة translated from Arabic means “consultation” or “to seek advice”. It serves as a means through which people consult on topics of public importance. This pre-Islamic custom has evolved and exists in many cultures and civilizations in various forms. MASHŪRAH draws on this process of communal decision-making, reciprocal consultation and learning, to explore Muslim epistemologies, visual culture, narratives, and histories in the context of South Africa.
MASHŪRAH ARTS is founded by Sara Bint Moneer Khan, a curator and researcher from London. As part of her current PhD study on visual literacy and art advocacy in Cape Town’s Muslim community, Khan observed a lack of Muslim voices in the South African art ecosystem. This initiative aims to create a space for collaboration, development, dialogue and dissemination of artistic practices with a special focus on Muslims and Islam in Africa.
Greatmore studio is an artist-led community of practice and was an ideal choice to showcase what is both a response and an inquiry into South African art history’s depiction and exclusion of Muslim narratives. The exhibition forms part of broader debates on postcolonial curatorship, art practice, engagement and collecting.
Khan notes, “This exhibition is a response to encountering the lack of representation, sometimes misrepresentation and misunderstanding of Muslim narratives, as well as a lack of support for artists from these communities. After engaging with artists over a period of 2 years, we decided to create an experiential collective moment that can become a part of South African art history but also initiate a process of learning. I chose to bring together a diverse range of artists who had not exhibited together before, to foster solidarity and dialogue, particularly for emerging artists”.
Throughout the exhibition, the artists seek agency on topics that affect the lives of Muslims as well as those who live on its peripheries, interstices and junctures. The artists invite audiences to ‘seek’ advice and engage in consultation with them as they traverse this terrain.
MASHŪRAH as both an exhibition and a project aims to engage audiences and artists in an honest debate about aspects of Muslim epistemologies in art practice, audience engagement, display and collections. The category “Islamic art” and “Muslim art” historically defined by institutions, overlooked and confused many practices. This exhibition encourages active debate regarding the direction and notion of Islamic art or Muslim art in South Africa as a discipline. It investigates how political environments influence the narrative and the resulting premise. Furthermore, it asks what function aesthetics play in how we perceive artwork engendered by a specific group of people.
Throughout the show’s development, questions arose such as the essentiality to be Muslim to participate in an exhibition like this. Alternatively, if the space is free of religious critique? Is it assumed that art created by Muslims is obliged to be religious in nature? What is expected of these artists, and what have they expected of themselves in responding to the theme of the show? Overall, what are viewers expecting? The show employs a variety of styles and crossovers to promote debate on religious and non-religious viewpoints, political and apolitical philosophy, and contemporary and traditional thinking.