unmute for audio

This work explores ideas of Muslim female body’s representation as a feminist issue with in Islamic and Western contexts .

Women’s body’s , especially Muslim women’s body’s concealment and revealment continue to be problematic since they remain entrenched in  the socially constructed gender performativity based on their sex. While the fascination of the global north (art and media) with the veiled images of Muslim women is embedded in orientalism and passive eroticism since the nineteenth century, these images are deeply intertwined with ideas of looking and spectatorship. I test and understand the boundaries of my self-representation through this work, while denying satisfaction to the Muslim/Non-Muslim orientalist viewership and the general male gaze accustomed to consuming the nude female bodies in art. I veil the visibility of my body using geometric pixilation as a method. Use of geometry, grid, pixilation, and veil are common features of Islamic aesthetic and philosophical thought. In contrast to this, animated floriated images appear in form of a decorative border . These not only appear in the style of Mughal miniature paintings, but are actually borrowed and appropriated from one. In addition, the title of this work is also an appropriation of the traditional titles of royal manuscripts of Muslim emperors. نامه خاتون Khatoon Nama literally means The Book of Khatoon, taking after Badshahnama or “The Book of the King”. The audio track come from translated religious text, which instructs Muslim men to lower their gaze. I use sound in form of translated verses from religious texts to highlight not only the absence of a feminist perspective in my memories of growing up in the male dominant Islamic culture of Lahore, but also to echoing of holy texts  played out in male voices in my memories. Through this work I aim to connect the two seemingly varied approaches towards the female body . These being the totally veiled and the totally unveiled/nude.

Lower the Gaze

Manuscript Page from
خاتون نامه Khatoon Nama

Audio Visual Installation
?? minutes