If I were to exhibit my most recent body of work, it would fall comfortably into the title Instances of Behavioral Dissonance. Using the phrase “cognitive dissonance” as a benchmark, behavioral dissonance recognizes the cohabitation of antithetical actions as performed by practitioners of Islam.
Since 2014, I have archived photos, tweets, Instagram videos, song lyrics, etc. under the hashtag #AllRappersGoToHeaven. What began as a fun internet trend and mild troll, later grew into a practice of archiving and curation. This project casts light onto the lives and actions of Black American rappers engaging with aspects of Islam; from the lingo and style of dress to the behaviors. Now existing as an interactive photo installation integrating those social media elements (via VR technologies), All Rappers Go To Heaven exists to highlight shared intersecting identities, validate their behavioral dissonance, and study the effects of dissemination and its subsequent influence.
As a Black, Muslim woman who was previously unable to express these interests due to the constraints of my undergraduate program, I have made it my intention to take charge of the narratives near to me. With this, I create the works I want to see in the world of fine arts. Using my background in filmmaking and design, I aim to both create social commentary and navigate critique around issues of religion, socio-political awareness, and self-identity.
Newly interested in conceptual installation, I have been working around the aestheticization of the Ka’bah as a concept and a monument. Sculpting a simple metaphor by referencing BP’s 2017 Oil trade movements infographic and the annual ritual of Hajj, As Ritual, As Liminal speaks to the cohabitation of contradicting actions taking place within Saudi Arabia. Using two (simulated) raw materials -crude oil and white cotton- this piece examines how physical and metaphorical spaces can affect a shift in how people interact in and around those areas. This duality is present within the export of crude oil and the import of religious migration into the center point of Saudi Arabia. No. 1 (of this piece) hangs from the ceiling, creating a sense of place. This allows onlookers to move around it, reenacting or performing the ritualistic movements of Hajj called tawaf (walking in circles around Ka’bah) as the hung white sheet or ihram (clothing worn during Hajj) absorbs the crude oil below. The other part of As Ritual, As Liminal (No. 2) informs viewers about the many paths of oil trade out of Saudi Arabia—their quantities and destinations.
My own path from digital to physical has not been an easy one. I am often reminded to not illustrate my ideas, but to metaphorically represent them. It has manifested within me the perfect balance of ease and discomfort as I work with familiar themes through processes I am unfamiliar with. In making my “subculture” subject matter palatable for the “high arts” audience, I hope to challenge these institutions and shift the grounds of those divisions.