Common Ground is a major new photography exhibition, which attempts to explore the range and diversity of British Muslims’ experience of life in the UK. Eight young photographers have been commissioned to produce new bodies of work; their approach embracing the full breadth of photography practice – from social documentary, portrait, landscape and conceptual strategies. Not all work in the exhibition presents positive aspects of the interaction between Muslim and non-Muslim Britons. The aim instead has been to draw on the personal and the private, the inner fabric of individuals’ lives as well as the broader political and social realities of daily existence. Visual Arts has brought to the UK professional curators from Malaysia and Indonesia to advise on the project and worked in consultation with UK experts.
Each of the artists involved has proposed their own subjects for the exhibition. Life-sized colour portraits are the format chosen by Sam Piyasena to investigate the motivation behind British converts to Islam. Suki Dhanda has documented the lives of a small group of teenage British Muslim girls from Whitechapel. Amyandtanveer’s large colour photographs depict prominent Muslim performers whose faith has inspired their art. Jagtar Semplay’s colour photographs compare the lives of British Muslims, young with old, and how they both respond to living within a secular British society. Jagtar’s subjects are principally found in the large northern cities historically associated with Muslim immigration, Leeds and Bradford. Anthony Lam has given his impression, through a series of colour landscapes, of how Britain might appear to asylum seekers and refugees. His work is based on his experiences working with a youth group comprised almost entirely of young Bosnian and Somali Muslim refugees. Tim Smith has provided an historical context for the exhibition. By using archival material and studio portraits, Smith’s body of work looks at the motivation of the first Muslim immigrants to the UK after the 2nd World War and the industries in which they worked, centred upon Sheffield, Leeds and Bradford.
Catalogue ISBN 0 86355 5160
An Indonesian supplement, with an introduction by Mohammad Sobary, to the catalogue was published. Indonosean artists featured: Angki Purbandono, Arizona Sudiro, Bodi Chandra, Firdaus Fadlil, Muhammad Iqbal and Ray Bachtiar.
A catalogue with a foreword by Stephen Kinnock, and essays by Yasmin Alibhal-Brown and Brett Rogers was published to accompany the showing in St Petersburg. (Russian only)