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‘MASHŪRAH’ investigates Muslim visual culture, theories of knowledge, narratives, and histories in the context of South African art

Supplementing ART AFRICA‘s ongoing Africa/Middle East focus we are pleased to announce our partnership with MASHŪRAH ARTS, a new initiative that highlights Muslim voices in the South African art ecosystem.

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.

Installation view of 'MASHŪRAH'. Courtesy of MASHŪRAH ARTSInstallation view of ‘MASHŪRAH’. Clockwise from front: Nyambo Masa Mara, Laylaa Jacobs, Mishkaah Amien, Abdus Salaam, Haroon Gunn Salie, Shukry Adams, Hanna Noor Mahomed. All images courtesy of MASHŪRAH ARTS.
© Atiyyah KhanAtiyyah Khan, Bismillah Zine, 2019.
© Shukry AdamsShukry Adams, A Koples Now, 2021.

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.

ART AFRICA is really excited to see the launch of MASHŪRAH ARTS by curator Sara Bint Moneer Khan. This is a long overdue and much-needed initiative for South African arts and culture. For far too long there have been little to no voices from the Muslim community contributing to the mainstream contemporary visual art narratives of the region. It is our hope that our support can, in a small way at least, contribute to redressing this.”

– Brendon Bell-Roberts, Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, ART AFRICA magazine

Rahimah Ismail Rajiwate, Golden Hour, 2021.
Installation view of 'MASHŪRAH'. Courtesy of MASHŪRAH ARTSInstallation view of ‘MASHŪRAH’. From front, Sahlah Davids, Rahimah Ismail Rajiwate, Rushda Deaney.
© Achmat SoniAchmat Soni, Untitled
© Shameelah KhanShameelah Khan, The Wedding Day, 2021.

Greatmore Studios 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.

Installation view of 'MASHŪRAH'. Courtesy of MASHŪRAH ARTSInstallation view of ‘MASHŪRAH’. Abdus Salaam, Haroon Gunn Salie.
© Kamyar BineshtarighKamyar Bineshtarigh, Untitled (Ghazal no.359,39,389,198), 2021-07-21
© Mahmudah JafferMahmudah Jaffer, Beauty awaiting beauty, 2021.

‘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.

Installation view of 'MASHŪRAH'. Courtesy of MASHŪRAH ARTSInstallation view of ‘MASHŪRAH’. Nabeeha Mohamed, Sahlah Davids, Hasan & Husain Essop, Mishkaah Amien, Abdus Salaam, Laylaa Jacobs.
© Faheem Rhoda JacksonFaheem Rhoda Jackson, Al Qalam (The Pen), 2021.
© Haroon Gunn-SalieHaroon Gunn-Salie, Amongst Men, 2021.
 © Hanna Noor Mahomed (1)Hanna Noor Mahomed, Postcolonial Probe, 2021.

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 will be opening on the 24th of July at Greatmore Studios, Cape Town, South Africa. It will be on view until the 30th of September 2021. It can also be viewed online on MASHŪRAH ARTS YouTube.

FEATURED IMAGE: Gulshan Khan, Girl on Carousel, 2017.

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