Exploring the Muslim Future Through Art Installation “The Mirage”

Running until February 24th, this exhibit delves into the concept of Muslim Futurism, offering a space for reflection and exploration.

Exploring the Muslim Future Through Art Installation “The Mirage”
ALHAMDU is an evolving experiential art exhibition and archive created by MIPSTERZ that explores Muslim Futurism — a cultural and artistic approach inspired by Afrofuturism that imagines a broader Muslim future free from the oppression of today, set in a utopic tomorrow of our collective creation.

In the heart of Philadelphia's Old City lies a bold invitation — an opportunity to envision a future shaped by the principles of Islam. "The Mirage," an immersive art installation at Twelve Gates Arts gallery, invites viewers to consider the possibilities of a Muslim future. Running until February 24th, this exhibit delves into the concept of Muslim Futurism, offering a space for reflection and exploration.

Developed as part of the ALHAMDU | Muslim Futurism project by the national Muslim art collective MIPSTERZ, "The Mirage" transcends mere artistic expression. Drawing inspiration from Afrofuturism and the teachings of visionaries like Malcolm X, the installation challenges visitors to envision a world free from oppression. Abbas Rattani, the founder of MIPSTERZ, said in a statement, "We wanted to extract some theoretical principles and themes … there's something about the idea of the flourishing of a marginalized population that resonates with people."

Atif Sheikh and Aisha Khan co-founded Twelve Gates Arts in 2011 as a nonprofit to exhibit contemporary art from South and West Asian and North African artists. When the two learned about the installation through an artist connected with MIPSTERZ, they knew they had to bring it to Philadelphia, a city known for its Muslim population. 

Khan explained their motivation, stating, "We thought it would be an installation that would speak to Philly’s large and diverse Muslim population, while creating a safe space for them." 

Despite its roots in Muslim Futurism, "The Mirage" extends its embrace to all communities, fostering dialogue and solidarity. “Twelve Gates Arts is not a place for religion,” Sheikh said. “But with this exhibition, it’s more about resistance movements around the world and solidarity with them.”

“The Mirage” blends a variety of arts to create the whole of its exhibit, asking its viewer to engage more senses than sight alone. Humming fans and “dreamscape sounds” play while gauzy hang from ceiling to floor, adorned with projections of Muslims of all races, ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations traversing urban streets and arid landscapes. These images challenge conventional notions of identity and celebrate the cosmopolitan nature of Islam. Rattani says that, "There is no border of where one identity begins and another one ends. We are the people of Planet Earth."

The exhibits’ creators say that viewer participation is central to the experience of “The Mirage.” Shimul Chowdhury, an art director with MIPSTERZ, emphasizes the interactive nature of the installation, stating, "Not only are we immersing our viewers into a vision of a Muslim future that could be possible, but also we’re giving them an opportunity to get some guidance from it as well."

The creators of “The Mirage” say that they want people to walk away from the exhibit with a sense of joy, pride and inspiration. “My hope is that folks would … see some of the beauty that’s represented there and feel motivated and inspired to help make that a reality,” Chowdhury said.

Twelve Gates Arts is is open Wednesday through Saturday in Philadelphia. “The Mirage” will be on display through Feb. 24.

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