Exhibition / 1 Apr – 30 Apr 2019

Standing Up

Ayesha Khan

Standing Up
© Ayesha Khan

The fact that 80% of physical abuse reports are made by Muslim women offers compelling evidence that there is not enough education and enlightenment around the Islamic faith within Britain. Furthermore, the ratio of negative to positive representations of Muslims within the British media is 21:1. This is one of the factors leading to an increase in Islamophobia.

This project explores the identity of Muslim women who must stand up for themselves whilst also educating people about Islamophobia. The clothing of each participant shows the wide variety of dress that Muslim women choose to wear. Within the media a generic dress code has been stereotyped to suggest all Muslims dress like Arabs, which of course is not true: Islam is not a culture but a religion.

Ayesha Khan created images of powerful Muslim women and incorporated these with influential Western buildings within Cardiff. She specifically chose buildings that represent the West, in respect of culture, history, education, government and media. These institutions are highlighted to show that, if each one were to promote Islam in a positive way and on a large scale, the impact would be highly visible, as each institution is respected in its own way and has its own audience.

In making her portraits, Khan made good use of natural lighting to create shadows and highlights where she felt these added to her message. The highlights are used to create a holy glow - ‘Noor’ - on each participant’s face, to express their taking a stand against discrimination whilst still being proud of their faith. The shadows represent the darkness within Islamophobic notions and the behaviour that results.

All participants agreed with the statement that Islam has been misinterpreted by many and how there is a larger need to enlighten and educate people about the true message that Islam spreads, this being peace.

About Artist

Portrait of Ayesha Khan

Ayesha Khan

Ayesha Khan is a Welsh photographer who uses her creative practice to tackle head-on the misrepresentation of Muslim women within the British media. As Ayesha’s background is half-Welsh and half-Pakistani, she understands each culture and the differences between them. She is also a Muslim who wears hijab, and as a result has been able to identify some key issues concerned with stereotyping and Islamophobia whilst growing up in the South Wales valleys. A central theme within her photographic work is the depiction of powerful Muslim women, as a direct response to negative Muslim stereotypes as perceived in media imagery of all kinds.