“The West uses the East as an inverted mirror, imagining them to be everything the West is not.”
Manifesting the Unseen seeks to remove barriers and reveal hidden truths through creating a discursive space to subvert the ‘Orientalist gaze’ and experience the unique artistic language of Islamic art and its modern cultural expression. Bringing together an international group of emerging Muslim women artists the exhibition invites the viewer to see the unseen, challenging their perceptions of Islam and Muslim women.
The visual artists in Manifesting the Unseen share an interest in the unifying principles of Islamic art, its origins within the inner realities of divine revelation and its perfect balance of science, art and spirituality. Their work focuses on the essence of things, seeking not to replicate nature but to convey what it represents; revealing what is unseen until nothing remains hidden. The works in Manifesting the Unseen aspire to reflect the infinite nature of Allah; the creation of the pieces becomes an act of devotion for some, and a reflection of faith for others. Through engaging with these themes, viewers are invited to contemplate the idea of oneness and how from unity all diversity emerges.
Alongside the visual arts, and in keeping with the rich tradition of poetry in the Muslim world, Manifesting the Unseen will also invite a series of established and emerging women poets to construct a series of ekphrastic poems inspired by the artworks and performed at a Mehfil (recital) as one of a series of events offered as part of the exhibition. The exhibition will also feature a panel discussion with the artists and a series of workshops throughout the month offering the public the chance to learn about and practice: Islamic geometry, painting & illumination and calligraphy.
Manifesting the Unseen began as a discussion led by exhibition curator and poet Nazia Mirza on the invisibility of marginalised identities in public space and how for many in the West, Islamic art, including the poetic voices of the Muslim world, remains a hidden treasure. Working with this element of the exhibition, and in recognition of the erasure Black Muslim Women experience at multiple levels (including from Muslim led initiatives and institutions) photographer Wasi Daniju has been invited to exhibit a series of her photographs of Black Muslim Women; recently exhibited at the Everyday Muslim Symposium: An exploration of Black Muslims in British history and heritage. In Daniju’s own words:
“[W]e exist, we are here, we’ve been here for a long time and you need to be able to see us.”
Featured visual artists include:
- Jeea Mirza - www.jeeamirza.com
- Nazira Bibi - www.instagram.com/pomegranates
- Aziza Iqbal - www.azizaiqbal.com
- Maaida Noor - www.maaidanoor.com
- Sarah Choudhrey - www.sarachoudhrey.com
- Wasi Daniju - www.WasiDaniju.com
- Mobeen Akhtar - www.instagram.com/_mobeenakhtar_
- Shaheen Kasmani - www.shaheenkasmani.com
- Esra Alhamal - www.islamicillumination.com
- Samira Mian - www.samiramian.uk