Student artists showcase remarkable contemporary Islamic art

The Hijab Dialogue by Faizah Omar, 2013 | textile installation, 120 x 90 x 160cm
The Hijab Dialogue by Faizah Omar, 2013 | textile installation, 120 x 90 x 160cm

Bayu is an exhibition of contemporary artworks from 11 student alumni artists from the NTU School of Art, Design and Media. The exhibition explores how these artists’ practices in installation, photography, video and design draw inspiration from the art and culture of the Islamic world.

In recent years, representations of Islamic art have extended to include modes of enquiry into the politics and poetics of identity in Islamic aesthetic, cultural and historical traditions.  Emerging generations of artists whose practices are embedded in, or respond to this context, seek ways of discovering new dimensions in art-making, and that of self-actualisation.

Bayu, which means “wind” in Malay, engages with the metaphor of this undulating force of nature, both gentle and powerful. The wind transits through spaces, and breathes between pauses. The wind is both steadfast and surrendering, sometimes as a whisper of suggestion, and other times in a hurricane of gestures.

Like the wind, the exhibition is an attempt to weave artistic journeys through the discourse and established conventions in Islamic art and design.  While some of them may be intimate and personal expressions, they reveal critical nuances that expand into larger schemes of inquiry, and investigation, as artists seeks to translate their attitudes and agencies through art.

Co-curated by Javad Khajavi and Noor Iskandar, Bayu shows how artists deal with the complexities and dilemmas of cultural historical identity, as they negotiate between subjectivity as well as universality.  Rather than to resolve them, the exhibition offers a diverse range of the artists’ positions, presenting open-ended dialogues that broaden our understanding of their worlds.

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Aleph by Aisyah Mariah, 2015 | wall installation of personal ephemera, dimensions variable

Aleph is a documentation of thoughts and processes that are based on the artist’s perpetual search for the idea of home. For the artist, home is more than just a physical space, but also a philosophical truth that is to be found in her faith. The idea of home, as sites of solace, is concurrently being explored in traces the photographs and ephemera that form Aleph.

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Aleph by Aisyah Mariah, 2015 | wall installation of personal ephemera, dimensions variable

Amidst the conflicting social and political discourse surrounding discussions about the Muslim hijab or veil, the hijab itself has become tainted with varied meanings, such that its original significance has been obscured—modesty, purity and an extension of love for one’s Creator. In The Hijab Dialogue, the artist aims to provide a platform for opposing views and to portray differing viewpoints in hope of illuminating greater understanding, and the deeper cultural contexts that surround the hijab debates.

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The Hijab Dialogue by Faizah Omar, 2013 | textile installation, 120 x 90 x 160cm

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The Transitory by Jnkten Sufina, 2015 | spray paint and acrylic on canvas, 100 x 30.5 x 3.8cm

The work is based on the artist’s reflections of the human condition as one that is inherently based on impermanence, and this is true even in the course of art-making. For Inkten, the energy and inspiration that propels creative acts are in fact, forces that are constantly derived from other sources of enquiry, and indeed, borrowed.

Izziyana Suhaimi deploys embroidery as strategy of art-making to explore notions of time and labour. The works are inspired by the Islamic blue prayer mat, which is often used in the daily zikr practice of prayer. Zikr involves the use of words of praise
repeatedly. The artist includes pink stitches in the works as a way of symbolically representing the zikr prayer devotion. In the second piece, pink stitches are used to highlight areas worn out from daily use, as well as to symbolise repair and reinforcement.

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Waiting for the Northwesterly Winds by Izziyana Suhaimi, 2015 | textile installation, 152 x 109 x 10cm and 69 x 119 cm

Amidst the fast-paced society of a rapidly globalising and changing Singapore, Noor Iskandar’s work questions how Muslim identity can grow, and what may be some of the deeper complexities. Today, Muslim identity has become entrenched within other social and geopolitical contexts that it is no longer solely within the personal, but also subjected to that of the institutional or the religious domains. The work is the artist’s attempt to search for meaning amidst uncertainties and displacements of faith.

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Peace Be Upon The Hearts In Disarray by Noor Iskandar, 2012 | photo installation, dimensions variable

Images courtesy of Jeremy Chua Photography

The exhibition runs from 9 – 31 October 2015

Bayu Exhibition
opening hours

mon – fri: 10am – 5pm
sat: 12pm – 5pm
closed on sundays
and public holidays
adm gallery 2
School of art, design and media, nanyang technological university
81 Nanyang drive
Singapore 637458

More information here.

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