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Exploring Muslim visual culture in context of SA art

Artwork by Gulshan Khan ‘Girl on the Carousel’ 2017

Artwork by Gulshan Khan ‘Girl on the Carousel’ 2017

Published Aug 18, 2021

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Cape Town - MASHŪRAH Arts’ first exhibition titled MASHŪRAH at Greatmore Studios in Woodstock explores Muslim visual culture, theories of knowledge, narratives, and histories in the context of South African art.

The exhibition's title MASHŪRAH مشورة translated from Arabic means "consultation” or “to seek advice”.

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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 civilisations 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.

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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.

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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 post-colonial curatorship, art practice, engagement and collecting.

“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,” Khan said.

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“After engaging with artists over a period of two 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.

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.

This exhibition, which opened on July 24, 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.

The exhibition can be viewed at Greatmore Studios, 47 Greatmore St, Woodstock, until September 30 from 10am-4pm.

Follow Greatmore Studios and MASHŪRAH ARTS social media pages for more information.

Cape Times

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