It’s Not Easy Being Green, sang Kermit the Frog.

Elspeth Walker |  Ed: Clare Deal  |  5 June 2020

Maria Mahfooz’s latest exhibition (LOA London, 27th March – 2nd April) draws on this, showcasing her humorous style, whilst also questioning our perceptions and expectations of the imagined boundary between a Muslim woman and ‘western’ culture. Drawing from the parallel narratives of both Kermit’s and her own experiences, with a nod to the use of a green screen, her work is an exploration into the acceptance of an othered body.

30 Q’s with Maria Mahfooz. © Courtesy of the artist.

Mahfooz’s work playfully feeds into many digital pop-culture forms, from the magazine esc style ’30 Questions with Maria Mahfooz’, to ‘Pakistani Girls’ a parody of Katy Perry’s song California Girls. Using humour, she draws us into the scenes, which later reveal their more serious subtext. When speaking to It’s Nice That magazine, Mahfooz stated that she used satire as a way of dealing with dislocation, and the element of humour is to allow the work to be easily digested, but also raise the question of uncertainty. Pakistani Girls presents two Muslim women wanting to have fun and wear burkinis. Should you laugh or not?

Mahfooz often uses a green screen in her work to create a rich variety of background images, locations and colours. A green screen is a cloth background coloured green, as it was originally considered the least worn colour, that an image can be projected onto digitally. In other forms of her work, Mahfooz also uses digital collage. This is achieved by placing videos or images on top of the current audio-visual landscape, adding symbolic and locational features. 

Pa-ki-stani girls. © Courtesy of the artist.
Dad Dancing. © Courtesy of the artist.

The two digital techniques are used within Mahfooz’s art as a means of placing herself in various settings to draw attention to the connotations and stereotypes associated with them. They also allow her to occupy spaces that she may not have been able to. The work is often an autobiographical response, and acts as a commentary on the feelings of otherness. As a visible Muslim woman of colour, her work is an exploration of her own identity and the preconceived identities placed upon her. Therefore, the artist uses this digital form symbolically as a reference to a body trying to find its place in the physical world and online. Through dad-dancing, singing, and going on a dinner date with Mahfooz in a variety of locations, the viewer is called to question their assumptions of Mahfooz and many like her occupying numerous spaces.

Her latest exhibition, It’s Not Easy Being Green, had to be moved to online due to Covid-19, creating a new, unintentional, layer to her digital artwork. With the opening occurring online, and the exhibition being held via live stream on YouTube, or stories on Instagram, Mahfooz’s work played with a digital location and the real one of her room. Each day, from 5-6 pm, during the exhibition she tuned into the live video doing a variety of acts from yoga to taking a nap all with a green screen. All of which ties into the reoccurring themes within her art of exploring the relationship to space, otherness and identity for a Muslim woman, both on and off-line.

About the Artist

Caption copy here

Maria Mahfooz (b.1995) is a London based multidisciplinary artist, working with green screen and digital collage. She graduated from Central Saint Martins London in 2019, with a BA in Fine Art. She has received the Sid Motion Gallery Prize. Since October 2019 she has been a resident artist at ACME.

Upcoming, Group Shows and Projects

Upcoming Exhibitions

Group shows

  • BABEL (2019) Co-Curated with Hugo Hutchins
  • Rabbits Road Press Neighbourhood Zine exhibition (2019)
  • Degree show one (2019)
  • Open studio (2019)

Projects

  • Tate Exchange (2019)
  • The Age Of New Babylon (2018)
  • Metaphonica (2018)
  • Royal College Student film festival (2018)
  • Normal to Dissent (2018)
  • Tate Exchange (2018)
  • Tate exchange (2017)
Website

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