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Photographer hopes exhibition ‘inspires’ conversations about Asian identity

AN acclaimed photographer hopes his latest exhibition at a city centre gallery will inspire conversations about identity in Bradford’s Asian community.

You Get Me?, by Mahtab Hussain, is being shown outside London for the first time at Impressions Gallery in City Park.

The exhibition, of photographs exploring the question of identity among young, working-class British Asian men and boys, opened yesterday.

The men depicted in his portraits identify as Muslim, and expressed they felt ridiculed by the negative media representation of their lives.

Presented with quotes in the voices of the men, each of the 24 large-scale portraits in the exhibition tells a story of boyhood and manhood, and show how the men and boys negotiate masculinity, self-esteem, identity and religion in multi-cultural Britain.

Mr Hussain, 36 hopes his photographs create a conversation. He said: “It is really important that people talk about what they are seeing. Some people might have a bias against these people that they have never met before. Where does that bias come from?”

He said that although the exhibition was about Asian men, it said just as much about working-class boys as it did about Asian identity. He said: “This is talking about class. When you look at how the subjects are dressed it is not a style specific to one particular ethnic community. A lot are dressed in similar styles to working-class black communities or the Hispanic communities of America. You see they are becoming part of a global identity, it is not just British.

“There is that question asked of the Muslim community ‘why aren’t you integrating?’ The answer is that a lot of young Muslim men are integrating to the Western culture, just maybe not in the way you want them to.”

“It is hugely important that this work has been brought to Bradford. This exhibition is for everyone, it isn’t just for the Asian community, although I do want Bradford’s Asian community to engage with this. I think they’ll have a lot to say with regards to identity. It will be good to have more brown faces being positioned as fine art. I hope it inspires new generations to experience more ownership of these types of spaces.”

The exhibition is by Autograph ABP and funded by the Arts Council. It has been curated by by Dr Mark Sealy. It runs until March 24.

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