Art by Muslims and art from Muslim-majority countries has long explored non-binary sexuality and gender but how did these identities come to be fringe narratives? How have they evolved as they return to the mainstream? What can we continue to learn about sexuality and gender from Muslim artists? Featuring academic and musician Shanon Shah, visual artist Faiza Butt and Dr Nur Sobers-Khan, Lead Curator of South Asia Collections at the British Library. Chaired by journalist and art critic Bidisha.
Shanon is the author of The Making of a Gay Muslim: Religion, Sexuality and Identity in Malaysia and Britain. Now based in London and deputy editor of the acclaimed quarterly Critical Muslim, he was a multiple award-winning singer-songwriter, playwright, and journalist in his native Malaysia.
Faiza was born in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1973. Her elaborate drawings are obsessively crafted with passion and rigour, and create surfaces that hover between photography and embroidery. Born into a family of five sisters, gender related themes are close to her heart. Her work has been exhibited at various art fairs, such as Art Dubai and the Hong Kong Art Fair, and extensively in Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and the United States. Her work can also be found in private and public collections, including the British Museum, The Kiran Nadar Museum, Burger Collection and many more.
Dr. Nur Sobers-Khan
Nur completed a PhD in Islamic History in 2012 at the Oriental Studies Faculty at the University Cambridge. In 2012-2013, she was the Iran Heritage Curator for Persian manuscripts at the British Library, and from 2014-2015, she was a curator at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, where she curated the exhibition, ‘Building Our Collection: Mughal and Safavid Albums’ and co-curated, ‘Qajar Women: Images of Women in 19th-century Iran’. She is currently the Lead Curator for South Asia at the British Library, responsible for the South Asian language books and manuscripts in Perso-Arabic script. She is also the Principle Investigator of the AHRC/Newton-Babha-funded Two Centuries of Indian Print project that aims to digitise the British Library’s early printed South Asian book collections.
Bidisha is a British writer, film-maker and broadcaster/presenter for the BBC TV and radio, Channel 4 news and Sky News and is a trustee of the Booker Prize Foundation, looking after the UK’s most prestigious prizes for literature in English and in translation. She is chair of judges for the 2018 Forward Prizes for poetry and has just directed her first short film, An Impossible Poison, which premiered at the Breaking Ground festival in Berlin in November 2017. She specialises in international human rights, social justice, gender and the arts and offers political analysis and cultural diplomacy tying these interests together, usually for the British Council. She also does outreach work in UK prisons, refugee charities and detention centres. Her most recent book, her fifth, is Asylum and Exile: Hidden Voices of London.