Somia Khalil

Contemporary Art BA(Hons)

I am the angel of death.

I am a revenging angel, using materials that invoke the violence enacted on particular Muslim women’s bodies and the constraining of their sexual pleasure through genital mutilation. Through my work, I liberate myself from the constraints I feel and live through as a British Pakistani Muslim woman. This necessitates the use of sharp edges, broken glass–I cut myself free in the service of the freedom of all of the Muslim women past and present who also yearn for their bodily autonomy.

I bring a destructive and dismantling approach to how art can be used as an iconoclastic voice in opposition to harmful, sexist and violent practices that some would dare call ‘traditions’. In my work I express anger at the kinds of oppression of the Asian female body, the literal cut of the mutilation and the concealing of the body through strict enforcement of cultural code. My experience as a young woman from a Muslim background in the UK is to have a kind of cultural and social expectation that I also cover up.

I work with sculpture, photography and video. I create powerful and striking pieces that emerge from my experience as a British Pakistani Muslim woman. I reclaim my identity through embracing what is seen as culturally taboo within my community.