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Jammat 2019-20

Old Kent Road Mosque, London

Jamaat (2019-20) at Old Kent Road Mosque comprises of two automated floor projections, one in the main prayer hall and one in the female prayer space of Old Kent Road Mosque. Two identical mechanical rigs filmed congregational prayer from above, at a constant speed from the entrance to the Mihrab in both prayer spaces. Pre-recorded footage of prayer was then projected back into the architectural sites using the same automated device. The Nigerian congregation at Old Kent Road Mosque has built a large, active community, organizing many support groups and events. The female prayer space is of equal size and capacity to the main prayer hall directly above and this artwork reflects the unison of the two congregations via dual moving projections performing both prayer sites in synchronized time and space.

Old Kent Road Mosque is located in a renovated former pub in Southwark. The Nigerian Muslim association informally started in the early 1960s with a transient community of Nigerians coming to London to study. Initially staying only for short periods of time, it was not until the 1980s when a more permanent community started to develop. It took a further 10 years before the association in 1993 acquired their first place of worship and another 5 years after that before the abandoned pub was established as Old Kent Road Mosque.

Mosques in Britain are crowd-sourced community projects. There is no overarching religious authority that directs or funds mosque buildings, religious congregations are independent and self-organized. As a result, mosques built by immigrant communities have adapted to and altered the British vernacular, and can be found in terraced houses, supermarkets and pubs. A new purpose-built mosque and Islamic centre is due to be built on the existing site of Old Kent Road Mosque in 2020. Jamaat is both a celebration and historical record of an under-represented aspect of Britain’s religious heritage, the self-built mosque.

Due to COVID-19 a socially distanced performance of Jamaat took place for the congregation providing an opportunity for the mosque community to virtually experience congregational prayer, after a period of two months without access to the mosque.