Inshaaf Jamodien

Artist Catalogue

Virtual Exhibition

An-Nisa : The Women

To begin this journey of artistic introspection, I look to a text by Gabeba Baderoon titled The Ghost in the House: Women, Race and Domesticity in South Africa. The text speaks to the trauma of Black domesticity and how it has become a patriarchal symbolic extension of oppression in a post-apartheid South Africa. While Baderoon’s piece focuses on the effects of Apartheid with specificity to Black individuals, the historically racist regime discriminated and affected coloured individuals as well. These transgenerational effects can be seen in the traumatic inheritance passed down in coloured Muslim households. It has transformed and exists in the subtle, but ever-present patriarchal hierarchy within these households.

My late grandparents, as well as my older aunts and uncles, lived through the racist regime and were indoctrinated to being accustomed to segregation as well as oppression. This, coupled with old school values, created an intersectional space of segregation and oppression where women were relegated to the kitchen and cast into the role of domesticity.

Baderoon further unpacks the idea of domesticity and transposes it onto the “built environment” which she states, “reflects the relations of labor in the intimate space of the house” (Baderoon, 2014:7). It is with this quote in mind that I use the idea of the ‘built environment’ and transpose it onto the kitchen as a site of domesticity as well as trauma.

When looking through the lens of the kitchen as a site of trauma, I refer particularly to the generational trauma women in Muslim households only ever speak of in the space of the kitchen, as, in my experience, women are often relegated to the kitchen to fulfill a supposedly dutiful role of domesticity and thus, creating a safe space within the kitchen. The kitchen then becomes this fragile space of both inflicting and healing trauma. The kitchen also plays an important role in the food making process, a process which plays significant cultural and traditional roles in the Muslim community. It is for this reason that I have chosen to centre my exhibition around the Eid celebration and all the cultural significance it holds in terms of the food making process, as well as the women responsible for making these foods.

In looking at my own family practices surrounding domesticity, I hope there is recognition in my work for other Muslim women to find comfort in. It is my hope that this project provides a platform of safety for women beyond the confines of a kitchen and to give them the recognition they deserve without inherently tying them to domesticity.