Saba Taj

Region: South

 It is an odd thing to be inside a body, to be known within that body, read as a race, a gender, an ethnicity. These identities are activated by the gaze of others, invented by the gaze of power. We are lacerated into largely binary categories; these classifications determining the material realities enacted upon us.

Disrupting these classifications has been a key component in my figurative work. As a Brown person navigating the dualistic racial system of the American South and a queer Muslim embodying the paradoxes of inherited and claimed identities, I am most interested in exploring identity and the body through the destabilizing and liberatory lens of queerness and liminality, and the Islamic mystical concept of barzakh. As such, the subjects of my work are hybrids—amalgamations of seemingly incongruous parts. Their physical bodies and environments become a mutable landscape for resisting confinement and embracing contradiction. Instead of focusing on our trauma, I place resilience at the forefront, emphasizing beauty, friendship, and the fertile possibilities of the borderless in-between.