← Assembly:


Salat 2018

Birmingham Central Mosque, Birmingham

Salat is made and performed in collaboration with the Birmingham Central Mosque congregation. The research proposes a new approach to site-specificity; a collaboration between community, artist, machine and site. A key concern is how the collaboration between artist and congregation can inform much of the decision-making around production.

As an artist, I was granted access to make the work, but at the same time, as a non-Muslim and as a woman I was denied access to the mosque during prayer. This demonstrates the complexity of negotiation in terms of engagement with the materiality of a space, when that space is determined primarily by strict codes that are based on ideological restrictions.

Salat brings forth a precise relationship between body and space, helped by the fact that the people it addresses are coming to worship and therefore invested in the place. The congregation question how the projected image relates to the real space and how the experience of the real space is mediated by the image. Salat challenges ideas about what happens in a sacred space, as the worshippers physically re-orient themselves to their own image, witnessing the projected image of their body move over their physical body in the site. It could be argued that there is already a form of site-integrity in the mosque because of the religious and social practices that happen there. How much are the religious practices responsible for defining a mosque?

“Experiencing the image of my own body over me and feeling it physically move over me was a strange feeling, I was made more aware of the space around me.” (Congregation feedback)

“The projected image makes prayer appear even more tangible and real than reality itself. There is a heighted sense of the theatrical within this and seeing my own body in the film is fascinating, i've never seen myself in this light before." (Congregation feedback)

“Watching the boys playing with the projection is fascinating. The dipping in and out does not actually disturb the thing as material or the thing as image: it actually performs both at the same time and shows how we come to be ourselves as ethical beings through figuring out how things feel on our bodies, not by adhering to strict code.“ (Congregation feedback)