(Politics) Alia Ali’s transglobal textiles: People of Pattern / Cast No Evil

by Alia Ali

This series is an important platform in itself to participate in dialogue. It is for this reason that I chose to continue with this style and develop it in regards to indigenous textiles of particular regions, in a new series called the People of Pattern. The People of Pattern Project was inspired in January 2016 when I was following the lead-up to the United States primaries. I felt numbed and handicapped by all hatred that was being spouted out by potential candidates and the disregard of the media to remain objective and/or provide balanced coverage.

Alia Ali's Hikeshi. Kyoto, Japan, 2016.
Alia Ali’s Hikeshi. Kyoto, Japan, 2016.

This hateful speech was directly targeted towards women, Muslims, Mexicans, Black Americans, Africans, Japanese, Arabs and a growing list of other groups. Derogatory terms such as “rapists, killers, dogs, thieves, terrorists, cheaters and killers” are only a few terms that have been volunteered during debates and have been far too easily absorbed by a considerable number of people around the world, not just in the United States, but the world.

This misinformation was regurgitated through media channels and clearly taken as truth by a large number of individuals. It was clear to me that this discourse of hatred had to be balanced with beauty by means of art. If we have forgotten that we have our humanity in common, then I introduce another thing we have in common, fabric.

Alia Ali's Red Dao. Taphin, Vietnam, 2016.
Alia Ali’s Red Dao. Taphin, Vietnam, 2016.

As an artistic intervention I chose to travel to seven different locations (which were specifically brought up by Trump) and around the world and infiltrate social media feeds by information that directly countered what the media was spewing (#peopleofpattern). I hope that these groups are acknowledged don election day not as the terms mentioned above, but rather as people of beauty of color and patterns and some of whom are actually American as can be.

Alia Ali's Shabani. Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2016.
Alia Ali’s Shabani. Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2016.

The seven countries include Yemen, Mexico, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan. Not featured in the images below are India and Kenya, which I have yet to go to. The overall work approaches the same topic in how we are all inherently the same in our needs and fulfillment and yet entirely different in the process, the in-between, and this is what makes us unique and beautiful so to appreciate it and not to make us vulnerable for it. This series empowers the differences of others, something that the United states was built on and should not be forgotten.

Alia Ali's Resplandor II. Oaxaca, Mexico, 2016.
Alia Ali’s Resplandor II. Oaxaca, Mexico, 2016.

Both series, Cast No Evil and the People of Pattern, render questions around contested notions of identity, boundaries, freedoms, constraints, all of which eventually makes us “us” and the “others” so otherly.

Alia Ali's Tihama. Sana'a, Yemen, 2016.
Alia Ali’s Tihama. Sana’a, Yemen, 2016.

My work is not intended to answer questions, but rather serve as a prop for individuals to interact with themselves. The exhibition of my work, be in physical or virtual, becomes an intimate space to reevaluate one’s context of themselves in regards to their immediate social circle, their society and the world.

Alia Ali, (1985, born Austria / Yemeni-Bosnian-America)

Alia Ali is a multi-media artist and visual storyteller who comes from two countries that no longer exist, Yugoslavia and South Yemen (modern day Bosnia & Hercegovina and Yemen). Having traveled to fifty-three countries, lived in seven and grown up among five languages, her most comfortable mode of communication is through image and multi-sensory mediums. Her extensive travels have led her to process the world through interactive experiences. As a child of two linguists, Alia believes that the interpretation of verbal and written language has dis-served particular communities and presents more of a threat than a means of understanding.

It is for this reason that Alia’s aesthetic interests stem from people, place, and the processes which unite and divide us, all at once. Her work reflects on the politics and poetics of contested notions surrounding the topics of identity, physical borders, universality, mental/physical spaces of confinement, and the inherent dualism that exists in everything. Her work blurs the lines between what we claim to be objective and subjective, illusion and reality, truth and interpretation.

Alia is currently on a transglobal project, called the People of Pattern, whereby she is exploring cultures and their stories through the medium of textile and the processes of making them. Her journey takes her to Oaxaca, Mexico; Bokhara, Uzbekistan; Yogyakarta, Indonesia; SAPA, Vietnam; Kyoto, Japan; Ahmedabad, India; and Dakar, Senegal. She will be hosted by artist residencies who are sponsoring accommodation, studio space and community engagement in Mexico (Obracadobra AiR), Japan (Paradise AiR), and Vietnam (Hanoi Heritage Space and Indochina Art Partnership).

Alia is a graduate of the United World College of the Atlantic (UWCAC) and holds a BA in Studio Art and Middle Eastern Studies from Wellesley College. Her studios are transient, but are for the most part based in New Orleans (Louisiana), Farmington (Maine) and Marrakech (Morocco). Her recent work has been featured at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art as part of PhotoNOLA, the Marrakech Biennale as part of the Swiss-Moroccan KE’CH Collective, at PhotoLondon as part of the LensCulture Exposure Awards, and most recently the Kuala Lumpur International Photo Awards in Malaysia.

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