Wesaam Al-Badry discusses his work in the De Young Fine Arts Magazine


Artists and Guests Respond to the Museums


In this series, a visiting artist or community member contributes an original artwork or narrative offering a unique perspective on the de Young or Legion of Honor museums, collections, or visitors. Photographer Wesaam Al-Badry, born in Iraq, fled on foot with his family at the start of the Gulf War and stayed in refugee camps for four and a half years before relocating to the United States. His work, currently on view in Contemporary Muslim Fashions (through January 6, 2019), focuses on the human dignity of the alienated and dispossessed.


From Fashion to Discourse

Wesaam Al-Badry


The work I have chosen to feature here is from a larger body of work in progress that explores “casual casualty wear.” To create art is an act of agency. The Contemporary Muslim Fashions exhibition explores and finds space for a dialogue to exist. Conversations of this sort are routes into and out of the paradigms that seem permanent, though the labels change. Civilization becomes colonization. Colonization becomes modernity. Modernity becomes development. Power is power, even as it changes in form. Weaving together political discourse and popular culture is as crucial as ever.


There is no denial that youth and Muslim culture is a growing dynamic. This flourishing has been driven by Muslim women entrepreneurs, who chose to define what Muslim fashion means to them. The archaic lens through which Muslim culture has been viewed by orientalist scholars has collapsed with the rise of contemporary Muslim scholars and artists. For a museum to take a risk and show this work is in step with emerging discursive platforms. It is a step toward thinking about the tesseract textures and folds of humanity's fabric.