Sarah Pritchard, Director of Communications & Strategy
415-863-1414 x103, [email protected]

SOMArts Cultural Center Presents


Exhibition January 25–February 22, 2018
Opening reception & performances Thursday, January 25, 6–9pm

Group exhibition creates a platform for visibility and an archive of resistance within queer, trans* and gender non-conforming Muslim communities.

December 13, 2017, San Francisco, CA— SOMArts Cultural Center presents The Third Muslim: Queer and Trans* Muslim Narratives of Resistance and Resilience co-curated by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Yas Ahmed. The second exhibition in the 2017–2018 season of the SOMArts Curatorial Residency, this group exhibition centers artists whose identities as queer, trans*, gender non-conforming and Muslim have consistently pushed them to the margins of the margins.

Opening with a free public reception on Thursday, January 25, 6–9 pmThe Third Muslim insists on the transformative potential of self-representation, revealing the multiplicity of Muslim and queer identities and experiences. Featuring 14 exhibiting artists ranging from Syrian to Somali to Pakistani heritage, The Third Muslim challenges gender-based oppression within Islam, as well as racism (specifically, colorism and anti-blackness) and Islamophobia within mainstream queer and trans* communities. The exhibition will build a visual archive of art and activism created by and for queer and trans* Muslims.

“We recognize that representation functions as connective tissue to the vibrant and complex history of art-activism that exists within the Bay Area to broader communities, including Muslim, queer and trans*, and artists. The exhibition also highlights struggles common among contemporary Muslim queer, trans* and gender non-conforming communities, regardless of locale, including displacement, diaspora, and hyphenated identities,” Bhutto and Ahmed observe of their curatorial debut for The Third Muslim.

The opening reception on January 25 will two Bay Area based queer Muslim poets and remarks from the curators. In addition, artists from the Poster Syndicate will be onsite to create live screen prints for reception attendees to take home.

Multidisciplinary artist Kiyaan Abadani‘s photographic installation plays with themes and borders of disability, gender, diaspora, violence survivorship, spirituality, time and place. It’s about intergenerational trauma, ancestral memory, the past and present mingling and bleeding into one another. They’re often bed-ridden. Their “takht” (bed) is both a space of abundance and scarcity — it is the privilege of having shelter for their unruly, burned out bodymind and a location of displacement & isolation.  It is where they time travel, stay still, and/or shape-shift… where they atomize, alchemize, fall apart, and piece back together.  While laying on a heatpad, they dream of collective healing, justice, accessibility, and liberation.

Investigating the conflicts that emerge at the intersection of Middle-Eastern heritage and queerness, multidisciplinary artist Jamil Hellu questions the political nature of bisecting identities while expanding on contemporary representations of gay narratives. Simultaneously an autobiographical investigation of internalized homophobia, Hellu’s work also addresses the complexities and stereotypes of immigrant heritage and Arab ethnicity in the current climate of Islamophobia.

Saba Taj’s mixed media installation represents the three garments she sowed with her mother before coming out as queer. Deeply personal and political, Taj’s work investigates the power of representation, challenging Islamophobia and exploring her multifaceted identity as a queer Muslim.

Public programs in conjunction with the exhibition include Queering Islam: A community conversation and panel from 6–8pm on Thursday, February 8 and the closing storytelling performance by Wazina Zondon and Terna Hamida on Saturday, February 17, 1–4pm.


Kiyaan Abadani
Numair Abbasi
Samra Habib
Jamil Hellu
Ayqa Khan
Laylatul Qadr
Kaamila Mohamed
Abdullah Qureshi
Parisa Parnian
Eissa Saeed
Bobuq Sayed
Mohsin Shafi
Saba Taj
Nabeela Vega

January 25–February 22, 2018

Gallery hours: Tuesday–Friday 12–7pm & Saturday 12–5pm

The exhibition is free to visit during gallery hours and during the opening reception. SOMArts Cultural Center is located at 934 Brannan St. (between 8th & 9th Streets), San Francisco, CA, 94103. SOMArts is wheelchair/ADA accessible. More information on accessibility is available here:

Opening Reception
Thursday, January 25, 6–9pm
The opening night celebration features performances, confirmed readings by local queer Muslim poets and live screen printing. To learn more, visit

Queering Islam: A Conversation
Thursday, February 8, 6–8pm
A panel conversation representing an intergenerational, multi-identity group of community members who have made their own paths as queer Muslims in the realms of faith, fashion, leather and kink, often creating their own meaning and (sub)communities where none existed before. To learn more, visit

Closing Reception & Performance
Saturday, February 17, 1–4pm

Featuring Coming Out Muslim: Radical Acts of Love, co-conceived and performed by Wazina Zondon and Terna Hamida, the closing reception and storytelling performance will be accompanied by a talkback with audience members subsequent to the performance. To learn more, visit



SOMArts Cultural Center, founded in 1979, cultivates access to the arts within the Bay Area by collaborating with community-focused artists and organizations. Together, we engage the power of the arts to provoke just and fair inclusion, cultural respect and civic participation.

SOMArts plays a vital role in the arts ecosystem by helping activate the arts citywide. We do this by providing space and production support for non-profit events, as well as fairs and festivals throughout the Bay Area, and offering a robust program of art exhibitions, classes, events and performances that are affordable and accessible to all. SOMArts’ exhibition programs receive critical support from the San Francisco Arts Commission and The San Francisco Foundation, and are sponsored in part by a grant from Grants for the Arts.

SOMArts is located at 934 Brannan Street—between 8th and 9th—within 2 blocks of 101, I-80, Muni lines and bike paths.

For public information call 415-863-1414 or visit Stay connected by following us on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Image credit: Saba Taj, “Alpha, Delta, Burqa,” cotton/lace/plastic pearls; Relaxed Fit, denim; Scarlett O’7ara, bint Fatima, velvet and curtain trimmings, varying dimensions, 2014. Image courtesy of the artist.

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