Burkini Surf

A decade after 9/11, American media and culture still had a fearful and uninformed slant against Muslims, both American and foreign. My associations with 9/11 came from experiencing it through the TV in high school journalism class. My later experience coordinating GreenPeace guerrilla performances led me to conceive of a project that similarly sought to effect change through spectacle. My primary audience was white women of my mother’s generation. Using surfing with its connotations of American identity, freedom, strength and agency, I sought out Muslim American women my age who also grew up in California and surfed, skated, or snowboarded. By word of mouth, I later offered free surf lessons for portrait sitting sessions and feedback on how each woman personally desired to be portrayed. At the time, translating someone else’s truth to a white audience was the best I could conceive of, and recruiting surfing buddies to a very male space was fun.

Early Afternoon at Canal Street, 48 x 65 in, recycled beach pier wood, fabric, painted nails, and other mixed media, 2012

Guest Segment on “KateChung,” KChung Radio, 1630 AM, Los Angeles, July 27, 2013, 5-5:30pm