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A. Sheikh: The Test

June 26–Aug 3, 2024
Student Gallery

In the multimedia installation The Test, A. Sheikh explores the mental health experiences of eight Queer Muslim individuals through audio interviews set in a majlis. In Arabic, majlis means “sitting room” and, in this context, refers to a particular kind of room characterized by U-shaped floor seating designed to facilitate discussion. Floor seating is common across the Muslim world as sitting on the floor is considered Sunnah, an action practiced by Prophet Muhammed (PBUH).1 In parts of the Middle East, majalis exist in both public and private realms, serving purposes ranging from discussing important political issues, hosting wedding receptions, paying condolences, and receiving guests/socializing. Alienated by Islamophobia and Queerphobia, LGBT2Q+ Muslims lack physical and emotional spaces to authentically be themselves. The Test queers the majlis by imagining a space in which discussions surrounding Queerness, Islam, and mental health can be had, directly challenging deeply rooted cultural and religious taboos. Rooted in the artist’s own experiences as a Queer Muslim who grew up in the Middle East, this participatory and autoethnographic project serves as an act of (re)connection, healing, and reclamation.

Content Warning: Queerphobia, Islamophobia, discussions of suicide, mention of grooming, religious trauma.

1.     PBUH is an abbreviation for “peace be upon him”. It is traditional practice for Muslims to say this after the name of a prophet to show respect.

Public Programs

Opening Reception: A. Sheikh: The Test 
Wednesday, June 26, 2024 | 6–8 pm

All events take place at The Image Centre (33 Gould St., Toronto) unless otherwise noted.  

 

This exhibition was created with support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and is part of the DocNow Festival 2024

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Fig. 1

Noor Awan, Beyond Blueprints, 2023, digital illustration, for the exhibition A. Sheikh: The Test. Courtesy of the artist

Artist Bio

A. Sheikh

A. Sheikh (they/them) is an artist working in photography, film, video, and installation. Drawing heavily on their experiences and identities, their work is heavily process-based and rooted in anti-oppressive practices, highlighting vulnerability as a form of resistance and empowerment. Their work and activism centre around the intersection of queerness, faith, and race/ethnicity. Sheikh completed their BA in Economics and Political Science at McGill University (Montreal). The exhibition of The Test is the culmination of their MFA in Documentary Media at Toronto Metropolitan University and was created with support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

A. Sheikh: The Test