A series of artistic experiments on ways to express the complexities of personal identity across cultural and geographical boundaries.
Identity is not only self-produced but also negotiated with one’s community and governing institutions. Having lived as an immigrant since I was a teenager, my concept of self and the way I express it have to be continuously adjusted depending on where I am; especially when part of that self is subject to social, economic or political persecution. This identitarian inconsistency also persists even when my well-being is not at stake; I have become unable to sufficiently articulate who I am.
Through MOHAMMAD, I explored ways to forge an identity that works for me: a form of identity that fluidly expresses the different ways I construct myself. There are three artistic experiments, each culminating in a mini-installation.
The first stage is building an inventory of self. I collected my genetic-ancestry data (biological self), chat logs (performed self), and wrote down the different ‘selves’ I have (authored self). Using this inventory, I made an installation of two video self-portraits that ‘talk’ to and slowly merge into each other.
The second stage is denying an imposed identity. For the purpose of this project, I chose to sarcastically portray my experience at immigration counters in country borders. I created an installation where a viewer got to classify a photo as ‘MOHAMMAD’ or ‘NOT MOHAMMAD.’ After each classification, it printed out different visa pages depending on the choice made.
Finally, the third stage is creating a new identity by repurposing conventional identity expressions. I created custom patterns that were interpolated from the Islamic geometric pattern and my own hand drawings. Depending on the parameters fed into the generator, the patterns can dynamically change while retaining some of the original features. They can hide as well as reveal embedded icons and meanings.