Prayers (in Rotterdam) (2020) was a guerilla-style exhibition on a Rotterdam rooftop. I projected the documentation of my participatory performance “Malick, Jannat and Camille” (2019) onto a self-built wooden frame, for a few nights in September for my neighbors to see. The works could be seen from the street and from their apartments.
Looking back I see this as an emotional response to the chaos and uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic. We were confined to our homes. I returned to the Netherlands after being abroad for over 10 years. I was worried about my own and others’ mental and physical health, and found solace in these pictures of my friends praying: they seemed sincere and hopeful. I wanted to monumentalize them.
All public institutions and non-essential shops were closed and museums were experimenting with showing their collections publicly. At the time, I was in a state of mind where I felt that the contemporary art spaces were not for me - nor for my peers, seniors and juniors. Showing my work publicly, at my own accord, somehow then made sense to me. I felt like I was finally showing my work directly to a public I make work for.
Photography by Gianni Antonia. Video documentation by Uriel Matahelumual. This project was generously supported by Prof. Paul Goodwin through The Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation (TrAIN), University of Arts London.