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Manifesting the Unseen: Southampton 2021

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“The West uses the East as an inverted mirror, imagining them to be everything the West is not.”              

Edward Said

Manifesting the Unseen: Southampton 2021 is a first time collaboration between ‘Manifesting The Unseen’, an arts and culture project led by and featuring Muslim women and the city of Southampton. Curated by Nazia Mirza, and hosted by Solent Showcase Gallery and Southampton City Art Gallery.

The exhibition seeks to remove barriers and reveal hidden truths through creating a discursive space to subvert the ‘Orientalist gaze’ and experience the unique artistic language of Islamic art and its modern cultural expression. It began as a discussion on the invisibility of marginalised identities in public space and how for many in the West, Islamic art remains a hidden treasure. In 2018 this collective of established and emerging Muslim women artists first came together for an exhibition in London where they invited the viewer to see the unseen and challenge their perceptions of Islam and Muslim women.

The visual artists in Manifesting the Unseen share an interest in the unifying principles of Islamic art, its origins within the inner realities of divine revelation and its perfect balance of science, art and spirituality. Their work focuses on the essence of things, seeking not to replicate nature but to convey what it represents; revealing what is unseen until nothing remains hidden. The works in Manifesting the Unseen aspire to reflect the infinite nature of Allah; the creation of the pieces becomes an act of devotion for some, and a reflection of faith for others. Through engaging with these themes, viewers are invited to contemplate the idea of oneness and how from unity, all diversity emerges.

Twinned with the main exhibition in the  gallery, Solent University Showcase Gallery will present “Jaali”, an exhibition by two local artists Nazneen Ahmed and Abeer Kayani in the window space. Rooted in socially-engaged practice, the window exhibition hopes to increase understanding of Hampshire’s Muslim communities and celebrate the creativity of British Muslim women through the inspiration of the ‘Manifesting The Unseen’ collective. Many more elements of the exhibition to be announced city wide!

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