The Provocative work of Mariam Magsi
Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan and currently based in Toronto, Canada, Mariam Magsi is a Multimedia Artist specializing in Photography, Video, Performance, Sound, Installation and Documentary Filmmaking. Magsi has exhibited her work globally including but not limited to Toronto, Paris, New York and Amsterdam and her photography has been awarded by Pride Photo Award (advised by World Press Photo). Magsi is currently pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts in the Interdisciplinary Art, Media and Design graduate program at OCAD University, Toronto, Canada.
Cray Magazine Interview:
My journey with the burqa began when I took a photograph on the outskirts of Karachi, Pakistan. A family of women in burqas crossing a street, children at their hips and grocery bags in their hands. The only parts of their body that were visible were their feet bejewelled with rhinestone adorned shoes. At the time, I felt sorry for them, because I had lived in Canada for a while and began to see my own country of birth through a western lens. I realize now how naive and dangerous that was. There is no doubt that women suffer from state-imposed clothing restrictions and that it is most certainly a form of control and an extension of the overarching umbrella of patriarchy and misogyny that seems to transcend cultures and continents. However, my recent exploration into and experimentation with various versions of Islamic veils has led me into a journey inspired by post-colonial feminist theory that has enabled me to sift through the stereotypes and prejudices reinforced by the West. I’ve met queer Muslims who use veils to secretly celebrate their lifestyles through the freedom of anonymity. I have had the opportunity to interview women in Pakistan and Canada who choose to wear niqabs and hijabs despite the protests of their family members and spouses. Veils associated with Islamic cultures have caused rampant controversy around the world, even igniting bans in certain countries. I began to ask myself, why are Muslim women only depicted as victims of senseless oppression? Where are the voices and visions of women reclaiming and reimagining these veils and how can I add to the discourse? I create spaces both in my studio and out on the streets where there is room to play with the burqa specifically, allowing it to obtain an aesthetic life of its own while also inviting the wearer to enter a performative state. I am currently doing my MFA at OCAD University and have taken this opportunity to diversify my understanding of veils, their history, the cultural contexts that birthed them and how they continue to impact the Muslim world’s relationship with the West
Cray Magazine 2016.