“Visiting Thahab” explores the identity of a Muslim American femme in the post-9/11 diaspora. An image of this woman shrouded in a garment of gold, a color traditionally associated with luxury and masculinity, will be projected at ILLUMINUS. The viewer can use motion sensors to make the projected image of Thahab look as if it is mimicking their gestures. The garment, its symbolism, and the figure’s mimetic movements all isolate the woman and create a tension between her and her surroundings, raising the urgent question of what assimilation entails given the current political climate and the rise of Islamophobia in the United States. Past iterations of “Visiting Thahab” have been performed for Supernova; Todo Bajo Control Festival; and Queer, Rage, Magic, Terror.
Project presented in partnership with
Nabeela Vega has extensive experience as an artist, curator and organizer at international arts festivals and exhibitions. Their current work is particularly invested in opportunities afforded by new technologies to enhance art experience and communication across conceptual and geographical boundaries. Vega, originally from Bangladesh migrated to Washington D.C. four days before September 11, 2001. Experiences following this event, as well as identifying as a south asian queer muslim, fuel their interest in the orientalist/anti-orientalist lens and notions of 'the other' Vega's work has been exhibited nationally, internationally, and has appeared in publications such as The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and The Aerogram.
MAGGIE CAVALLO, ALTER PROJECTS
Vega’s “Visiting Thahab” is a study of the Muslim woman’s presence as an object in contemporary, domestic and foreign spaces through performance, video and photography. Vega hides the figure with gold, a color traditionally associated with luxury and masculinity. Both the garment and its symbolism isolate the woman, creating tension between her presence and her surroundings, raising the question of what it means to be assimilated in this day and age.
For Illuminus Boston, Vega’s will project a large scale video of the Visiting Thahab filmed in the tall reeds of the Muddy River in Boston’s Fenway. In Fenway Park, this piece confronts implicit biases that are common to Boston’s regional culture by inserting what has become a charged image of the figure in a Burka. There is a sense of urgency and relevancy to this work, that is necessary, especially in Boston, when considering the current political climate and the rise of Islamophobia in the United States. Consider, for example, the outrageous assumptions made by many regional residents when viewing the recent Os Gemeos mural in Boston of a child in pajamas. Due to the figure’s head being covered, there was as tidal wave xenophobia covered across social media.