Somewhere in America.
60"x40". C-Print, 2015.

A commentary on the miseducation of blind faith. The Arabic script in this manuscript is an English-to-Arabic transliteration of excerpts of the song: 

Somewhere in America
- Jay Z

Yellow Lambo in the driveway
A buck thirty-five, I'm on the highway
Frank Sinatra on my Sonos
Loud as fuck, I did it my way

Might crash ya Internet
And I ain't even into that
When I was talking Instagram
Last thing you wanted 
was your picture snapped
Feds still lurking
They see I'm still putting work in
Cause somewhere in America
Miley Cyrus is still twerkin'
Twerk it Miley.
 

Bolo (Saks Afridi and Qinza Najm) grew up in Pakistan, and like most kids, read the Quran in Arabic, a language which isn’t spoken in Pakistan. Children are taught to read the Quran with perfect recitation, but if asked about it’s meaning, they usually have no idea. With little ability to deduce meaning and judge context of the holy book for themselves, the majority of Pakistanis are essentially reading an alien language as duty.

Meanwhile the American religious landscape has been evolving. During the last decade, the proportion of religiously unaffiliated Americans has more than doubled*. And simultaneously hip hop culture has become mainstream culture, the new gospel. Even White appropriation of hip hop, from Eminem to Miley Cyrus indicates this ‘tanning’ of America. A new ideology and way of life has given birth. 

To illustrate this miseducation and dichotomy on both sides of Bolo’s past and present,  the aesthetic of an ancient gospel, a Quranic manuscript, has been infused with what is arguably the new gospel and ideology of America’s youth today: hip hop culture.

Both Quranic scripture and hip hop are rooted in rhythm and rote memorization. Both are followed blindly, quoted extensively and often misunderstood. The meticulously designed golden border paintings of Islamic art have visua parallels to the extravagance and imagery of hip hop. Both are a product of historical, political, and economic circumstances and have served as a voice for those subjugated by political and economic oppression.