monsters

These works are inspired in part by Islamic cosmologies and speculative fiction, both of which harness magical realism to imagine miraculous possibilities in the face of struggle. The pieces describe an apocalypse or “end of the world,” and the transformations it begets.

The beasts are constructed primarily with mixed media collage. Clippings are sourced from popular fashion and bridal magazines from the US and South Asia, and National Geographic. The deconstruction of these materials disrupts the capitalist, white supremacist narratives of beauty, value, and humanity that they espouse. The fragments are recombined, becoming decadent femme-monsters. These creatures reflect the monstrous reputation of the Other--erotic, fearsome, and difficult to kill.
  
The "beast of the earth" (دابة الأرض Dabbat al-Ardḍ, 27:82),  is described in the Quran and hadith as one of the signs of the coming of the Last Day.  A hybrid creature that "encompasses so many animal forms in paradoxical and fantastical ways, symbolizes a 'universal nature' that bears, as it were, all wordly realities within it; it is a manifestation of that intermediate world...between bodies and spirits where certain kinds of opposites can exist together" (Nasr, The Study Quran).  This interpretation of the beast speaks to its embodiment of queerness and liminality; an intermediary that destroys and transcends binaries.

Tree Begum

2018 12" x 18" Mixed media on paper Collage, watercolor, spray paint, ink, graphite, acrylic paint, thread, beads, gold leaf