Finding purification through art

SOUTH African visual arts twins Hassan and Husain Essop are introducing locals to Halaal Art.

SOUTH African visual arts twins Hassan and Husain Essop are introducing locals to Halaal Art.

Their exhibition is on at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg. It runs until April 1 and features photographs and a video installation.

Halaal Art extends their preoccupation with the role of the individual in society, in particular the space that Muslim youth negotiate in a secular environment. The images depict the brothers in various carefully staged locations and poses in Cape Town, Havana and Hamburg.

In Islam the rendering of the human form is haraam or forbidden, and artists are careful about limiting this representation to their own bodies and assuming responsibility for it.

Hassan says they are not interested in making objective statements. The questions they ask are personal and intimate and they perform these questions and the search for answers with their own bodies.

"The title of the show refers to the process of making pure. In the same way that we seek to halaal our lives, to remain pure within the various secular environments in which we find ourselves," Husain says.

"Our art is concerned with ritual as a process of purification and acknowledgement of mortality and a preparation for death, the imminence of which is a recurring motif in the exhibition."

Born and raised in Cape Town the twins graduated from the Michaelis School of Fine Art in 2007.

In 2009 the twins completed a residency in Cuba.

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