Sitting in Our Lap & Plucking Our Beard:
State St., Chicago, USA - 2019
Duration: Approx 7 mins
This project was trying to physically explore the relationship between the American (US) and the Islamic prayer (Salah). The artist decided to pray on the United States flag in front of the Islamic Center, that is marked by a very small wall plaque that is swallowed between the big signs of the major stores in Downtown Chicago, as if it is trying to conceal itself.
The prayer carpet is traditionally a sanitary object to be treated with care and respect. The intention was to use the flag similarly to highlight that the existence of Muslims and the Islamic Center as an integral part of the United States that is often denied, hidden, or concealed to the public.
The instruction was that every time the performer places their forehead on the flag during prayer, the people will place a cinder block there and stand on it, until the praying body isolated from the flag, and cannot continue praying.
The result of this 5 minute prayer was a gathering of angry, provoked, and curious pedestrians that led to a debate about the understanding of how the US flag should be used and who gets to choose how to use it. The remains of this performance is a sound recording that documented the performance and the debate between myself, my art colleagues and pedestrians passing by.
Photography: Rob Sohmer
Sound Recording: Cyrus