Zeinab Saleh is an artist, she is interested in the juxtaposition between western and eastern cultures in an increasingly globalised society. Particularly as a Muslim woman living in the west. Her work explores these themes. She is the curator of our upcoming exhibition Art Balaayo. A show that brings together the work of 7 female Somali artists. We meet and discuss what she hopes for and fears, why making art is important, and she tells me more about the motivations behind Art Balaayo:
I’ve met some amazing Somali artists in the past year who have inspired and influenced my work. I’ve been following the Art Balaayo podcast for a while which is a Somali pioneered podcast based in the UAE. The women in the podcast speak about contemporary issues and their own experiences as Somali diaspora living in the UAE as well as Canada and the US.
Similarly, to the podcast I wanted to create a space for us, by us (shout out to Solange) so that we connect and discuss our work together, in real life. Cloud communities are amazing but human interaction is also important and I want there to be more physical spaces for us to connect.
The current political state is frightening for many groups of people especially Muslims, but also people of colour, the LGBT community and women. Art is a great tool to speak about injustices and issues around the world in a way that people can understand and relate to. It opens discussions about unspoken narratives and allows us to explore and challenge ideas.
I fear greed. Injustices around the world and situations in the global south not improving in regard to environmental and social justice. The exploitation of Somalia due to our unstable government leading to illegal overfishing in Somalia and the pollution of our waters by European corporations.
I see art-making as necessary, vital and something that comes naturally to me, it brings me joy. Making art is also self-expression and therapy.
Zeinab is also part of 'Variant Space' a collective of female Muslim artists. The collective strives to shatter stereotypes, providing a new and refreshing arena for discourse on the Muslim woman. It acts as a platform from which female Muslims can speak about their experiences through their art and reclaim control over their image.
I am excited about Art Balaayo. To open, challenge and explore is to converse and debate, to make room for experimentation and freedom, to search for truths and to speak out loud. using art as a language to break down barriers instead of one that enables an elite to create them.
Art Balaayo opens on Friday 5th May at Red Door Studios. See our whats on page for opening times, launch details and information.