Umbay by Munirah Almehri - PhMuseum Days


Munirah Almehri

Umbai - Munirah Almehri
Umbai - Munirah Almehri
Umbai - Munirah Almehri
Umbai - Munirah Almehri
Umbai - Munirah Almehri

Exhibition Details:

Umbai is a photographic series that imagines queer futurism in the Kuwaiti context. The word “umbai” is a feminized word in Kuwaiti slang, it is a statement of surprise at the absurd and unexpected. Umbai is reserved only for the tongues of Kuwaiti women; so much so that if a man simply utters the word, they are accused of being gay. Thus, as a title, I have chosen this word to represent dominant discourses that regulate gender and sexuality in modern-day Kuwaiti society.

I have been interested in the ways that queer futurism becomes a crucial tool for those denied a future under the heteropatriarchy. Maneuvering between documentary photography, and constructed self-portraits/sets, this series depicts a culturally bound expression of queer idealism. Operating through the anonymous, the absurd, the stereotypical, the ultra-binary, and the phantasmic; I have created 5 characters that are situated within their own idealistic worlds to portray the potentiality of other ways of being.

“The here and now is a prison house. We must strive, in the face of the here and now’s totalising rendering of reality, to think and feel a then and there.” José Esteban Muñoz

Photographer's Bio:

Munirah Almehri is a Kuwaiti photographer based in London. Her work has been published locally and internationally. Her current work, Umbai, explores new ways of being through constructed self-portraits that present culturally-bound expressions of queerness. Her previous work deals with the production of speculative “anarchives” to portray Kuwait’s relationship between nationalism, religion, and modernity. She utilises visual identifications of the past in her work to explore the ways in which history is not redundant but instead is an entangled and nonlinear presence in new media. She has developed an anachronistic style in response to her growing interests in technocolonialism and datafication as disciplinary power. She rearranges certain signs of the past into the present in her work to criticise the false promise of progress through technology. Munirah Almehri studied Media and Communications at the Goldsmiths University of London and will be undertaking the MA Contemporary Photography course at Central Saint Martins.

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