Boundaries

Looking specifically at the perceptions of Muslim women in south Asian socio-religious cultures, Boundaries invites us to question the limitations placed on art, art spaces and its practitioners. The hegemonic systems that dictate their normative attributions and associations are examined primarily through the multidisciplinary art of Amber Hammad and the virtual space within which they have been rendered. 

Growing up in Lahore, Pakistan, Hammad reimagines art from across the ‘western’ cannon, reinventing renowned images to reflect her socio-religious and cultural identity, pushing the boundaries placed on art and re-examining the notions of belonging and ownership. As Hammad’s Islamic and Pakistani heritage intrudes on the art of Gustave Klimt (The Kiss, 1907 - 1908), Grant Wood (American Gothic, 1930), Marc Chagall (Birthday, 1915) and John Currin (Thanksgiving, 2003) among others, the influence of Fatima Mernissi can be traced, as she breaks down monolithic and homogenised perceptions of the Muslim women. This can be read in conjunction with the writing of Homi Bhabha, where the continuing impact of colonialism on our present is acknowledged, and we are encouraged to think critically and holistically about our understanding of emerging cultures. Hammad encapsulates Bhabha’s notion of hybridisation and furthers Mernissi’s agenda, encouraging a blurring of antithetical interpretations of ‘east’ and ‘west’, with the Muslim woman at the centre, defying reductive and racially-bound stereotypes. 

This rebellion against hegemonic interpretations of the ‘east’ / ’west’ division expands to the gallery space. Through the medium of video, the space transitions from the neutral yet ethereal commercial gallery, a monument to euro-centric cultural progression, to a space that is deeply personal. Much like the art on the walls, the artist unabashedly sits at the centre, with the space also reflecting her multifaceted, dynamic existence. As you wonder through the corridor, we see the art space transform, with the normative sights and sounds replaced with formative, diverse influences that can be traced in these reimagined artworks.  Much like Hammad’s person-centric practice, the virtual space is reformed around the Muslim woman, specifically, Hammad, and we recreate an art-space that welcomes and celebrates the individual. 

Selecting genres and contexts from which the Muslim women is typically excluded, Hammad uses her own image to imbue the Muslim woman with agency, as she moves through art from across centuries, demanding centre stage in multiple contexts. In her most recent work, Hammad turns away from the western cannon to manuscripts; taken from Indian miniature paintings and manuscript traditions Hammad highlights that the fight for the Muslim woman’s visibility is not limited to a single geographic or socio-cultural area. Through humour and an embracement of the woman’s body in all its forms, Hammad plays with notions of visibility, of power, of ownership, appropriation and identity in global and local contexts. This collection showcases over a decade of work; the icon of the Muslim, south Asian woman grows and adapts with the artist’s practice, rejecting the patriarchal, historicised and static assumptions that have bound her for far too long.

Mehnaz Mia - 2020

Amber Hammad

After Currin, 2014
Giclee Print on canvas, edition 1/3
86.5 x 112cm

$1,400 AUD

Amber Hammad

A Case of Exploding Mangoes, 2012
Giclee Print on canvas, edition  2/3
60 x 60.5cm

$1,400 AUD

Amber Hammad

Mona Lisa Series, 2005
Giclee Print on paper, edition 3/3
101.5 x 129.5cm

$2,800 AUD

Amber Hammad

Maryam, 2006
Giclee Print on paper
101.5 x 129.5cm

SOLD

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The posters and slogans on display in 2019 caused controversy. Courtesy Arif Ali / BBC News

Amber Hammad

Brown Mem Sahib, 2012
Giclee Print on canvas, edition 3/3
91.5 x 122.5cm

$2,100 AUD

Amber Hammad

Little Red Riding Hood, 2002
Giclee Print on Paper (booklet)

Edition 2/5
15 x 20cm

$700 AUD

Amber Hammad

The Reluctant Fundamentalist, 2012
Giclee Print on canvas

edition  2/3
51 x 61cm 

$1,680 AUD

Amber Hammad

3 Disgraces, 2020
Giclee Print on canvas
101.5 x 129.5cm

SOLD

Amber Hammad

River of Smoke, 2012
Giclee Print on canvas

Edition 3/3
46.5 x 61cm 

$2,100 AUD

Amber Hammad

Unveiling the Visible, 2012
Giclee Print on canvas, edition 2/3
114.5 x 66.5cm

$2,800 AUD

Amber Hammad

Pages from Amber Nama #1, 2020
Giclee Print and gold paint on Paper, Edition 1/3
23 x 33cm 

$2,100 AUD

Amber Hammad

Moustache Dreams, 2016
Pencil and Charcoal on Paper
35.5 x 45.5cm

$1,680 AUD

Amber Hammad (b. 1981 Lahore, Pakistan) currently resides in Sydney, Australia as she pursues her MA of Fine Arts by Research at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). She holds a Master of Art and Design Studies from Beaconhouse National University, Lahore, Pakistan where she was a visiting lecturer (2005 – 2015) and a BFA from the National College of Arts, also in Lahore, Pakistan. A finalist for the Australian Muslim Artist Prize, Islamic Museum of Australia, Melbourne (Ausralia) in both 2019 and 2020, and a finalist for the M16 Drawing Prize, M16 Artpace, Canberra, (Australia), she has been awarded the International Women’s Day Art Prize, Tap Gallery, Sydney (Australia) and The Shakir Ali Award for Academic Excellence, National College of Arts, Lahore (Pakistan). She is also the recipient of the Australian Government Research Training Programme Scholarship at the UNSW, Australia.

Her most recent group shows include: Australian Muslim Artist, Finalist Exhibition 2020, Islamic Museum of Australia, Melbourne (Australia); Wonderwall, India Art Fair 2020, Dehli (India), Australian Muslim Artist, Finalist Exhibition 2019, Islamic Museum of Australia, Melbourne (Australia); Ellipses-Between the Word and Image, Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur (India); Contemporary Artists From Pakistan, Diocesano Museum of Milano (Italy), East Meets West 2018, Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan (Italy), Promises to Keep, Apexart New York (USA). Her solo shows include Glocal, Wonderwall, Delhi (India) and Solo, Rohtas II, Lahore (Pakistan). She has most recently spoken at Women in Asia Conference, Veiling and Unveiling: Attire of Women in the Urban Pakistan Reflecting Ideologies, Class and Confusion, UNSW, Sydney (Australia) and the 22nd Biennial Conference of the Asian Studies Association of Australian Localising Globalisation: Gender Ideologies of Pakistani Urban Citizens, University of Sydney (Australia). Her artworks can be seen in the Devi Art Foundation (India), Islamic Museum of Australia (Australia) and in private collections across the globe.

Bibliography

This list of reference sources was compiled by the artist and the curator to give any viewer insight into the literature that surrounds the research for this exhibition

  • Abu-Lughod, Lila. Do Muslim Women Need Saving?, 2015. Print.My stealthy Freedom / White Wednesday

  • Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid's Tale. New York: Anchor Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, 1998. Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower., 2020. Print.

  • Ayubi, Zahra. Gendered Morality: Classical Islamic Ethics of the Self, Family, and Society.,2019. Print.

  • Badran, Margot. Feminism in Islam: Secular and Religious Convergences. Oxford, England: Oneworld Publications, 2009. Print.

  • Baer, Eva, ‘The Human Figure in Early Islamic Art: Some Preliminary Remarks’, Muqarnas 16. 1999.

  • Barlas, Asma. 'believing Women' in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur'an. , 2019. Internet resource.

  • Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida. Vintage, 1993. Print.

  • Butler, Cornelia H, and Lisa G. Mark. Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution. Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, 2007. Print.

  • Christine, . The Book of the City of Ladies. , 2014. Internet resource.

  • Dutoya, Virginie. "The New Heroine? Gender Representations in Contemporary Pakistani Dramas." Book Chapter. (2018). Print.

  • Eltahawy, Mona. Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution. , 2016. Print.

  • “French Police Make Woman Remove Clothing on Nice Beach Following Burkini Ban” Published on 24 August 2016.
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/24/french-police-make-woman-remove-burkini-on-nice-beach

  • Gualdoni, Flaminio. The HIisoty of the Nude. Skira Editore. 2013

  • Halberstam, Jack. Female Masculinity. Durham: Duke University Press, 1998.

  • Haeri, Shahla. (2002). No shame for the sun: Lives of professional Pakistani women. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse.

  • Hammad, A., Localizing Globalization: Gender Ideologies of Pakistani Urban Citizens, Conference Paper Presentation at Asian Studies Association of Australia

  • Conference, 2018. Australia. https://sydney.edu.au/sydney-southeast-asia-centre/events/Asian-Studies- Association-of-Australia-Conference-2018/faqs/panel-sessions-day-2.html#uniqueId_JyyHFdvP_0_button

  • Haq, Iram, Adil Hussain, and Maria Mozhdah. What Will People Say, 2018. Film

  • Hooks, bell. Feminism Is for Everybody. Taylor and Francis, 2015. Internet resource.

  • Hussein, Nazia. Rethinking New Womanhood: Practices of Gender, Class, Culture and Religion in South Asia. Springer International, 2018. Web.

  • Ahmed, Leila. Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Pr, 2011. Print.

  • Ahmed, Sara. Living a Feminist Life. Durham: Duke University Press, 2017. Internet resource.

  • ʻAlīʹnizhād, Masīḥ, and Kambiz Foroohar. The Wind in My Hair: My Fight for Freedom in Modern Iran., 2018. Print. 

  • “I created the burkini to give women freedom, not to take it away”. The Guardian.24 August 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/24/i-created-the-burkini-to-give- women-freedom-not-to-take-it-away

  • Interview: Artist Sarah Maple Talks Culture, Religion, And Politics – And How They Define Her Work. https://untitled-magazine.com/interview-artist-sarah-maple-talks-culture-religion-and-politics-and-how-they-define-her-work/

  • Khan, Mariam. It's Not About the Burqa: Muslim Women on Faith, Feminism, Sexuality and Race., 2019. Print.

  • Lorde, Audre, and Audre Lorde. The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House. , 2018. Print.

  • McGoldrick, Dominic. Human Rights and Religion: The Islamic Headscarf Debate in Europe. Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2007. Print.

  • Mernissi, Fatima. Beyond the Veil: Male-female Dynamics in a Modern Muslim Society. London: Saqi, 2011. Print.

  • Mohanty, Chandra T. Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourse., n.d. Print.

  • Moreton-Robinson, Aileen, and Aileen Moreton-Robinson. Whitening Race: Essays in Social and Cultural Criticism. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 2004. Print.

  • Russ, Joanna. The Female Man. 1970. Ebook

  • Said, Edward W. Orientalism. London: Penguin, 1995. Print.

  • Tarlo, Emma. Visibly Muslim: Fashion, Politics, Faith. Oxford: Berg, 2010. Internet resource.

  • Thanvi, Ashraf A, and Mahomed Mahomedy. Heavenly Ornaments (Bahishti Zewar). Zamzam Publishers Pakistan, 2018. Print.

  • The Second Sex. Erscheinungsort nicht ermittelbar: Vintage Classics, 2015. Print.

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