Running until 2 September at The New Art Gallery Walsall in the UK
A new exhibition of photographs by Mahtab Hussain
is currently on near Birmingham (UK) at The New Art Gallery Walsall. Through photography, Hussain explores the important relationships between race, identity, heritage and displacement, focusing on gender, hybridity
and culture differences within the British Muslim community.
Going Back Home To Where I Came From,
was drawn out of the Slow Boat artist residencywith Ikon Gallery (UK)
. The artist travelled to Kashmir in Pakistan, the homeland of his parents. A collection of intimate portraits, atmospheric landscapes and still lifes are presented, encapsulating what he describes as, “… this profound feeling of having returned home to a place where close members of my family lived who I’d met for the first time, familial strangers who had made me feel so incredibly welcome, people my parents had left behind.”
The exhibition has met with much acclaim, including a review in in The New York Times
and it has been selected by Dazed as one of the top summer picks of 2018
Born and raised in Glasgow in 1981 to parents who had emigrated from South Asia in the 60s and 70s, Hussain experienced racism and discrimination and was frequently met with taunts of “go back home” – a ‘home’ that was completely alien to him.
This feeling of being an outsider in the country of his birth is what led Hussain, through his artistic practice to document the relationship between identity, heritage and displacement, focusing on the experiences of the British Muslim community.
In September of 2016, he travelled to Kotli, his mother’s hometown in Kashmir. During the three weeks he was there, Hussain created a visual diary of what his life might have been like if his parents had not migrated. He retraced his mother’s footsteps through the cornfields and down to the river where she used to bathe and met relatives who previously had been strangers.
The resulting images paint a picture of village life in all its simplicity: a stark contrast to the harshness with which this area of the world is often portrayed. His imagesare observations on loss and the idea of homeland. One of the main imagesin the exhibition is of the nearby Mangla Dam Lake. The dam, built in the 60s, forced the redirection of ancient water routes resulting in the displacement of 110,000 local villagerswhen their homes were submerged. Many of the displaced settled in the West Midlands area in the UK, where they worked on the canals.
Hussain’s work adds a fresh dimension to expanding multicultural dialogues.The exhibition is accompanied by the publication, Going Back to Where I Came From
, made possible by Ikon Gallery, and supported by Arts Council England and the British Council.In an interview with the British Journal of Photography
at the time of the unveiling of the exhibition earlier in the summer, Hussain said: “If someone asks me where I come from I always just say I am a human being. Labelling is not important, it’s about where your emotions lie.”
Mahtab Hussain is represented by East Wing. For more information about the exhibition, visit The New Art Gallery Walsall. The bookGoing Back Home To Where I Came From is published by Ikon Gallery and priced at £20.
has been the recipient of numerous awards and commissions, including from Ikon Gallery, New Art Exchange, Arts Council England and the Arts & Humanities Research Council; and he has been the winner of the Curator’s Choice Award, Culture Cloud at New Art Exchange and of FORMAT13 Portfolio Review Award. Hussain was selected as the 2015 Light Work + Autograph ABP Artist-in-Residence and chosen as a ‘discovery’ artist from 500 international artists as part of the prestigious Discoveries of the Meeting Place programme at Houston FotoFest 2016.Hussain’s series, You Get Me? debuted in the UK in 2017 with an exhibition curated by Mark Sealy at Autograph ABP in London.
The series reached an audience of over two million through print, online, TV and radio coverage, with prominent feature articles in The Guardian
, The Economist
, Vanity Fair
, The New York Times
and Dazed & Confused