A genealogy of resistance: contemporary Muslim artists in Cape Town
(University of the Western Cape)
Ala Alhourani (University of Cape Town)
Paper short abstract:
The paper explores socially-engaged performative art by Muslim artists in Cape Town. It examines the visual representation and the public imagination of the history of urban Muslim resistance and collectivity in the city, which is taken into the intimate fields of family and sexual tensions.
Paper long abstract:
The proposed paper explores socially-engaged performative art by Muslim artists in Cape Town. The discussion opens with an exhibition that was on show in Cape Town in November 2013. Three young local artists took on the challenges to present the trajectory of Islam in South Africa and the aesthetics and politics of Muslim resistance in Cape Town. Through performative and visual art, Weaam Williams, Igshaan Adams and Haroon Gunn-Salie examined the visual representation and the public imagination of the history of urban Muslim resistance and collectivity in the city. The artists worked through the lives of three prominent figures, who share the cause of resistance to colonialism and Apartheid with a firm grounding in Islam in a history that spans three centuries, from Tuan Guru, an important founder of local Islam, who was brought in the 18th century as a prisoner from Indonesia to the Cape, through to Imam Abdullah Haron, a religious leader and anti-apartheid activist, murdered by the Security Branch in 1969, and Jazz musician Abdullah Ibrahim. The paper then focuses on the life, work, and aesthetics of Igshaan Adams, with special emphasis on his contribution to the Three Abdullahs event. The ritualistic performance he presented, together with his father - a respected member of the Cape Town Muslim community -, in response to the idea of legacy, while drawing on the historic figure of Tuan Guru, moves the collective imagination of Islam and community into the intimate fields of family and sexual tensions.
Collective imaginations and collaborative art practice