I was invited to Muslimfest 2010 held at Mississauga, Ontario. This was an amazing event and throughout the weekend I was greeted with such sincere hospitality. I met many inspiring artists who confirmed the reasons why I love attending such events. All my thanks go to the wonderful organizers and volunteers!
This specific mural invites viewers to reflect on the contribution of all the different civilizations in the creation of humanity and our common histories. This is primarily displayed through a depiction of the Empire of Timbuktu, whose many adventurers landed on the shores of the Americas years before Columbus.
The mural “History or His Story” seeks to highlight the oft over-looked contributions of Muslims in the story of our civilization. Whether accidentally or purposefully neglected in the mainstream historical narrative, the Golden Age of Islam and the Empire of Mali have not been given due credit for their advanced knowledge of the world and their discoveries. Decades before Christopher Columbus was even born, other peoples and Empires had reached the continent of the Americas. Such people include the Phoenicians, the Vikings and the Mandinkas, whose Malian Empire revolved around the ancient city of Timbuktu. Therefore, it is an unfair statement to claim that Columbus ‘discovered’ the Americas in 1492, but rather, that the Americas discovered them – to their own peril.
Led by the King Abou Bakr 2, the Mandinkas people reached the Americas in the early 14th century. Numerous detailed accounts of such voyages have even been recorded in Christopher Columbus’s memoires! Columbus himself acknowledged the undeniable evidence that situated the Mandinkas people in America well before 1492. Such revealing facts have been hushed or swept aside by our cultural imaginary, which has now become a universal phenomenon due to the onset of globalization and an era of cultural and psychological colonization. The constructs of such a hegemonic historical narrative must be questioned and rectified in order to re-balance the agency of different peoples, cultures and religions; not just in order to re-read history, but also to empower those disenfranchised in our current age.
The FIMA (Festival International Montréal en Arts) is the greatest open air art gallery in eastern Canada. The BoulevArt expands over a one-kilometre stretch of Montreal’s central artery, Sainte-Catherine Street, closed to the automobile traffic all summer. The FIMA offers festival goers a unique opportunity to meet artists from various backgrounds, professionals and emerging artists, and to purchase artworks directly from the artists (without going through a gallery or an agent). In 2010, close to 300 artists, exhibitors and performers will take the street during 11 days, from July 1st to the 11th. Over 75 000 people walk on the BoulevArt on a daily basis.
More than an open-air exhibition, FIMA presents a rich and diversified program: short film screenings, multimedia performances, immersive installations, live painting, craft work demonstrations and a series of multidisciplinary performances. In addition to the outdoor programming, thematic exhibitions are presented indoors each year, notably at the Écomusée du fier monde.
The FIMA’s convivial and relax atmosphere is a fertile ground for exchanges and encounters, allowing the public to familiarize with art. The artists can benefit from a direct feedback from the public and have access to a whole new clientele. This is how for 11 years the FIMA has been actively demystifying and democratizing visual arts in the heart of the city of Montreal.
This summer, the city of Chicago hosted ‘Takin’ it to the Streets’; a large international Muslim festival packed with renowned musicians, singers, street artists and the like. I was invited to paint a mural, along with several other graffiti artists.
The experience was monumental – so much talent crammed into one weekend extravaganza! I met many artists from different walks of life and really fed off their enthusiasm and energy.
Too often in modern times, elders of a community are not looked upon with admiration and love, but rather with impatience and disdain. Too many youth forget about the abundance of rich knowledge stored in their grandmothers and grandfathers. We forget that these older generations hold the keys to unlocking the mysteries of the past and the wisdom to build the future.
The mural ‘Respect your elders’ seeks to bring attention to the dangerous gap we have created between generations, and endeavors to instill the admiration and respect that our grandparents deserve. Arabesques and calligraphy refer to the artistic traditions from which we came as a culture, which would not have existed without our ancestors. Graffiti reflects the art of the youth; a new medium painting the patterns and arts of the past. ‘Respect Your Elders’ is a call to break the modern myth that being old means being frail and useless and instead that being old means being a vessel of wisdom and grace; worthy of gratitude and praise for bringing us to life.
Our identities form the basis of our lives. Who am I? Where do I come from? What and who do I identify with? Without answers to these questions, individuals, families and cultures lose their essence and their meaning. Hence, the exploration of identity is pivotal in my work. Reviving a culture and art which has been both ignored and at times denigrated in the Western hemisphere, the exhibition entitled ‘identity’ depicts the various components of my Arabic and Islamic history which construct my own identity. Touching on the theoretical and the concrete, this exhibition displays both what identity is (religion, culture, history) and how it is portrayed (through craft making and art) by using different mediums and mixing differing artistic styles.
The show features 30 artist from 9 different nationalities , it’s a wonderful diverse mix from the UAE, UK, USA, Canada, Lebanon, India, Pakistan, The Philippines and South Africa.
Fn Designs is curating ” FAKiE “, the first skateboard art show happening in the UAE. Taking place at Shelter, on Thursday the 13th of May and running until the 27th of May 2010. Opening night Thursday 13th May 2010, 7pm – 10pm, and runs until Thursday 27th May 2010.
Here is my Deck.