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The Nude Dupatta

A Performance Lecture

 

HD Video with Sound
?? minutes
2021

خاتون نامه Khatoon Nama (The Book of Khatoon)

 

 

خاتون Khatoon was a legendary superhero who received her powers from the nude females of Islamic art history. While her heroic tales have existed in the oral histories of various cultures around the world for centuries, fragments and separated folio pages of a digitally  illustrated manuscript depicting her chronicles called  خاتون نامه Khatoon Nama (The Book of Khatoon) was discovered a few decades ago. An extensive body of research has emerged in recent years giving a new life to this forgotten legendary hero of our feminist history. This research paper discusses two art historical images that appear on Khatoon’s cape/dupatta, and it was presented at a recent online conference titled Khatoon Nama, that aimed to celebrate and bring together the diverse research around the manuscript.

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This work simultaneously critiques both the Western and Islamic art practices and institutions - In particular the politicization of veiled Muslim bodies in the global north, and the misogyny within socio-cultural institutions of radical Islam.  I use images of nude female bodies from Islamic art history, and the idea of hyper visible politicised imagery of veiled Muslim woman in our post 9-11 world to analyse and problematize the veiling/unveiling of the Muslim female bodies, and their subsequent visibility/invisibility.

 

During the second half of this MFA which coincided with global 2020 pandemic crises, I became increasingly interested in methods of making and sharing my creative works in digital formats. Utilizing an online platform (or its simulation) for this performance seemed appropriate as it not only mirrored the global shift to working via digital solutions, but also allowed me to participate in the widely prevalent transfer of labour onto digital platforms.

 

The earlier tests of this performance-based work were conducted at a few public and private places (without audience) e.g., UNSW Art & Design lecture hall, an open garden space in Sydney’s lower north shore etc. Speculations of the final work included a live performance, but by the end of 2020, the performance space and its structure moved completely to an online format. As the global pandemic made social interactions more and more unpredictable, I decided to locate myself and this work within the heightened digitality of our post pandemic world at the moment, and chose online method of displaying and sharing the work which would be feasible under restricted lockdown conditions, (while also will being displayable in a physical gallery space if/when the situation eases.)

Following are a few display test runs of this work, before the 2021 lockdowns and curfew in Sydney.

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