Nooshin Rostami: A drawing on light
In an enclosed space in the corner of the gallery, artist Nooshin Rostami projects light creating plays of light and shadow in the interior surfaces of the structure. Rostami uses light and shadow to question conceptions of perceived truths – do we find ourselves tied to the binaries of reality or fiction, truth or lie, or do we mediate an existence between the two?
Baseera Khan: Privacy Control
In this performance, artist Baseera Khan will read letters sent to her by friends, members of the Muslim diaspora, accompanied by Islamic cabaret, sculpture climbing, and light.
About Nooshin Rostami
An interdisciplinary artist, Nooshin Rostami’s practice is deeply influenced by her sense of displacement and her experience of living in exile in the United States. Often working with light and the language of abstraction, her work traverses varied media including drawing, sculpture, video, and performance. Through metaphorical constructions and game-like problem solving processes, she creates spatial landscapes that constitute personal, social, and political narratives. Her installation at BRIC ‒ a space constructed from geometric forms ‒ acts as a meditation on fundamental aspects of the human condition in regards to how we perceive and what we believe. Inside the small, darkened space, glass globes sit on a pedestal, reflecting and refracting the light projected through them. Cast shadows on the wall before them create shifting, wave-like patterns. Paying homage to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, she suggests perception as contingent and evolving. Here, light does not illuminate or clarify what we see; rather, in the refracted images and crisscrossing of light and reflections, we see only illusion. For Rostami, such a play of light and shadow compels the viewer to question what we perceive as real and illusory, truths and fictions. She likens the experience to our relationships with faith, religion, and dogma, suggesting to her viewers the need to question the “truths” we are given.
About Baseera Khan
Baseera Khan experiments with a variety of forms to explore the ways in which her Muslim identity is and can be represented ‒ from embroidered Nike AirForce Ones to customized prayer rugs made in India. Through common objects and materials, Khan reveals the complicated nature of representing oneself as Muslim and the implicit Islamophobia that permeates a consumer culture that prides itself on individual self-expression. Negotiating the realms of public and private spaces are integral to Khan’s practice In Privacy Control ‒ panels of double-sided mirrored acrylic behind which are displayed her own translations of protective verses from the Quran, she plays with the ambiguity between clarity and opacity, thus exercising control over what can be seen and protecting representations of identity. In other works, the issue of representation is made both personal and political. My Family Standing, My Family Seated, and My Family’s Headwraps, all center Muslim figures, including family portraits. Khan has punctured the surfaces of these layered images with holes in a semi-circular formation, recalling the seating layout of the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol building. Through the small holes, glimpses of enlarged photos of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the first Muslim congresswomen, are made visible. Such a combination of layering and cutting out continues Khan’s tactics of playing with obfuscation and visibility, the personal and political.
Beyond Geographies: Contemporary Art and Muslim Experience presents the work of eight New York-based artists who employ a range of visual strategies to manifest multiple dimensions of the contemporary Muslim experience. Of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African-American descent, these artists grapple with complex, hybrid identities. While drawing upon such areas of inquiry as mythology, spiritual philosophy and ritual, science, and social and political history, these artists are largely unburdened by the themes and forms that have come to symbolize recent art concerned with Muslim culture - the veil, calligraphy, or the events of 9/11, for example. Rather, they draw broadly on their identities as members of disparate diasporic communities, as immigrants, and as participants in the contemporary art discourse, to navigate and express identities that are fluid, layered, and engaged in a rigorous questioning of both tradition and contemporaneity. In their explorations of the specificities of cultures and communities they claim as their own, these artists bring new frames of reference toward a broader and more nuanced understanding of a world whose boundaries are increasingly porous.
The exhibition features installations, photography, sculpture, video, performance, painting, and drawing by Morehshin Allahyari, Laylah Amatullah Barrayn, Mona Saeed Kamal, Baseera Khan, Asif Mian, Umber Majeed, Nsenga Knight, and Nooshin Rostami; and is presented in conjunction with Kameelah Janan Rasheed’s exhibition, An Opening, at Brooklyn Historical Society.
Beyond Geographies is a component of Muslims in Brooklyn, a major public art and history project of Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS). Through this exhibition, public programs, oral histories, educational curriculum, and other initiatives, Muslims in Brooklyn aims to preserve and amplify the histories and experiences of Muslims in our borough.
The exhibition is curated by Elizabeth Ferrer, Chief Curator at BRIC. It will be accompanied by a catalogue with two essays: Sara Raza, a New York based independent curator and former Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, Middle East and North Africa will discuss the art and artists in Beyond Geographies. Zaheer Ali, Oral Historian at BHS and Director of the Muslims in Brooklyn project, will provide an overview of the histories of Muslim communities in Brooklyn. Public programs will include gallery talks and artist performances at BRIC House, and a panel discussion moderated by Sara Raza with several exhibiting artists at the Brooklyn Historical Society.
ABOUT BROOKLYN HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Founded in 1863, Brooklyn Historical Society is a nationally recognized urban history center dedicated to preserving and encouraging the study of Brooklyn's extraordinary 400-year history. Located in Brooklyn Heights and housed in a magnificent landmark building designed by George Post and opened in 1881, today's Brooklyn Historical Society is a cultural hub for civic dialogue, thoughtful engagement and community outreach. In May 2017, BHS opened a second site in DUMBO’s Brooklyn Bridge Park. For additional information, visit brooklynhistory.org.
The 3,000 square-foot Gallery in BRIC House has soaring 18-foot ceilings that permit major exhibitions focusing on emerging and mid-career artists and curators.
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