BY Imaan Jufeer
Imaan Jufeer is a self-taught visual artist from Sainthamaruthu, Sri Lanka whose art revolves around social themes. In this Q&A with Adilah Ismail, she discusses art activism and her creative practice.
- Could you please tell us about your art activism and the themes you draw upon in your creative practice? What was it that drew you to these?
I see art as one of the languages I speak through. It can motivate action and provide a critical perspective on the world as it is and imagine the world as it could be. While honing my art practice while growing up, I believed art has to set a clear vision for the eyes that see it. It has to have a message. For me, art activism meant making complicated information easier to grasp. Art activism is also well suited for an age of information technology as it can provide wider reach connecting with people on social networks
Being part of Priyam Collective and meeting friends who were exceptionally talented was inspiring. I saw the way they created awareness through storytelling, poetry, short films, and much more. Some of the subjects I’ve explored are gender equality, period poverty, ecological crisis, child sexual abuse, discrimination women in minority communities face, disability and patriarchy.
This is just the beginning of my journey towards art activism and I hope to improve my practice with the scope that Priyam Collective provides.
- What is the inspiration which prompted Spur of the Moment and Silent War?
Spur of The Moment is an acrylic painting which reflects on themes that revolve around habitat, climate change and biodiversity. I thought about environmental fragility and how I was always inspired by nature to tell my stories through art while nature was slowly declining and being destroyed. We are living in an exquisitely complicated world. We have borrowed it only for the time we are here and we owe it to those who will inherit it someday to protect it.
Habitats destroyed for industrial development are a major issue. Excessive byproducts of our daily lives make their way into the natural environment and become pollutants. The hourglass on the artwork depicts how little time we have and how much damage is already done.
Silent War is a digital print inspired by period poverty. A drop of blood visible externally in humans due to an accident will bring an immediate response and care, but the same blood that women shed each month is seen as disgusting and as taboo. Common misconceptions and superstitions older generations brought in the name of culture and tradition about periods haven’t changed. Women still feel shame and fear around their period due to a lack of knowledge and education. We not only bleed every month, but we also suffer unbearable pain and cramps. I chose to portray how beautiful it is to enter womanhood and how strong women are beyond words.
In Sri Lanka, women are stopped from going to school and work and doing common chores. Many also don’t have good waste management systems, period education, sanitary requirements, and hygiene facilities, and are unable to manage themselves with dignity during this time because of stigma or lack of access.
Sri Lanka’s current economic crisis is also contributing to an increase in period poverty. With increases in cost, inflation and the unavailability of sanitary products outside of Colombo and in low-income communities, many households are unable to access menstrual hygiene products or find them unaffordable. We should also cut down exorbitant taxes and make them affordable. Obtaining basic sanitary needs should not be a luxury.