25th August- Contested Territory

In this episode of Something Else, I caught up with Cigdem Aydemir and Brendan Penzer. Ci is a local Sydney artist whose work deals with issues of Islamophobia in an eye catching and entertaining way. Brendan is one of the directors of At The Vanishing Point which hosted the Contested Territory exhibition which dealt with land rights and power in a variety of contexts, from the NT Intervention to Palestinian rights, as well as Islamophobia here in Sydney.

Contested Territory

Contested Territory is one of a number of exhibitions in recent months which have come about as a reaction to the infamous ‘No Burqas’ mural in Newtown. The exhibition seeks to generate positive debate about a variety of loaded issues, with several works dealing with land rights in Australia and Palestine, and also Ci’s works which examine fear and paranoia surrounding headscarves of Muslim women.

Ci’s work ‘Extremist Activity (stroll)’ 2001 is a performance piece in which she takes a walk around Newtown while wearing a super-sized niqab the size of an umbrella. She invites the viewer to stare and also parodies the behemoth that religious headscarves have become in the public consciousness. In the second work Ci converted a rickshaw into a simulated niqab, inviting passersby to join her in the darkness and peer out the slits while she rode them along King Street.

Extremist Activity, Aydemir, 2011

Ci wore a burqa for ten years of her life, and her sister-in-law and mother still do. She is passionate about giving a voice to muslims in the art community, and self-representing rather than always being the subject of art. She’s an art teacher and known for filing the anti-discrimination complaint against the ‘No Burqas’ mural. Check out her website here.

Contested Territory is an exciting take on a variety of interlinked political and social issues. In this podcast Brendan also lets us know what other artists are involved and what kind of work you can catch there. For more information on Contested Territory and more exciting upcoming shows, check out the At The Vanishing Point website.

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-Maren

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