Artist spotlight: Cindy Islam

Meet Cindy Islam.

Sound artist Cindy Islam will be presenting their new performance piece – commissioned by Refugee Festival Scotland. 

The Veil Between Worlds will take place on 21st June, 8-9pm at CCA – Theatre, Glasgow. Book here.

Tell us a bit about yourself – and what inspires you?

I am a sound artist based in Glasgow, working with audio archives, field recordings, and synthesised frequencies. I create sonic environments as a conduit for focused listening experiences, using audio installations and performances to facilitate spaces where audiences have the opportunity to meditate on states of embodied listening.

I feel like listening is such a powerful exercise that we can practice to strengthen our abilities to connect with each other and ourselves. Listening is an essential approach for understanding topics around human-movement and displacement – and informs a lot of the narratives behind my work. 

Within my practice I find solace in playing with different personas and work under numerous pseudonyms. Cindy Islam is inspired by the veil as a multifaceted concept; an invisible fabric between multiple states of perception, as well as a visual representation of the veiled woman and her as a positive symbol of Islam. Cindy Islam wears the Niqab as a criticism of the unequal and one-sided demands of assimilation and as a confrontation to Islamophobia.

How does it feel to be part of this year’s Festival?

It feels like a blessing to be part of an amazing programme of artists and thinkers that are all joined together in celebrating the inclusion of people from all backgrounds. This is truly everything I stand for and to be part of the festival is such a privilege.

It feels very new for me to be accepted in my concepts and practice by such large-scale events and to give people the opportunity to listen to and understand the impact of human-movement from a lived experience is crucial to the progress and betterment of all communities. 

Tell us a bit about your event?

The Veil between Worlds is a live sound performance, which uses visuals from post-British and American-invasion of Iraq, scored with synthesised sounds and vocals.

The piece takes inspiration from the pensive moments amongst such a tumultuous emotional and bodily experience like displacement and how this tension between connecting with a motherland and at the same time forging a home on new land – can at moments be such a profound and abstract experience.

Wind plays a significant part in the piece and I use the breath to evoke this natural sense of flow – similar to the movement of other species and the traverse of meteorological conditions through lands, I really want to create an atmosphere that acknowledges human-movement as an essential and natural part of our world. 

What are you most looking forward to during this year’s Festival?

I am looking forward to sharing many moments with people who appreciate the hardships of being a migrant, refugee and/or asylum-seeker and being part of the discourse around how these complex and differing experiences can be better facilitated for current and future generations.

I am looking forward to festivals like this paving the way for more understanding, celebration and sympathetic approaches to welcoming new members of our community and really hope moments like this will echo a sense of solidarity to all the displaced and currently under threat communities around the world.

As a Queer Muslim it feels really exciting to connect with likeminded individuals and be part of a festival that breaks stereotypes and boundaries – the intentions of love and care I witness amongst the community, organisers and audiences is what gives me hope and motivation.

Anything else you want to share?

I feel it is important to share my concerns about Islamophobia and how this has normalised war and genocide against Muslims around the world.

I fear that a lot of people are refusing to accept Muslims in this country despite our integration. Even in my immediate family I have witnessed members who work for the NHS, as teachers and civil servants, all be racially profiled and associated with acts of terror just by being Muslim. These persistent associations of violence and terrorism portrayed in mainstream media and publicly shared by racists is unacceptable and has to stop.

I hope that people can learn to accept that Muslims, like any other religious group, are not represented by extreme individuals but rather interpreted as what most of us stand as – one of the many valuable communities of this country. 

Thank you!

Their event, The Veil Between Worlds, will take place on 21st June, 8-9pm at CCA – Theatre, Glasgow.

Book here.