Book reviews, Culture, Visual Arts

You get me?… The face of Muslims

The theme of identity is found in all the portraits at the exhibition titled “You get me?” by artist Mahtab Hussain. Open until the 1st of July, the exhibition features young Muslims who live in the UK, saying a lot without saying a single word.


Retratos de Mahtab Hussain musulmanes (3)Multiculturalism and diversity have defined the life of Mahtab Hussain, an artist born in the UK but of Arabic descent. Therefore, it is not surprising that his work encompasses two main subjects: identity and displaced people.

These topics are explored in “You get me?” an exhibition composed of 24 photographs in which the artist portrays the changing identity of young working Muslims living in today’s Britain.

There are an estimated 2.7 million Muslims living in the United Kingdom today, a population that began to settle here in the 1950s. The paradox is that despite this long tradition on the island, many young Muslims that live here still feel like foreigners.

Racism, discrimination in the workplace and high unemployment are some of the factors that explain this tendency.  Nevertheless, it doesn’t stop a big majority identifying with England and its culture.

Retratos de Mahtab Hussain musulmanes (1)Mahtab Hussain’s work covers a period of nine years photographing these young people in Birmingham, the city where he grew up. He later extended the project to London and Nottingham but using the same approach.

Hussain would walk the streets, talking to young people and photographing them during these improvised chats.

In one of the images, titled “Friends, curry sauce n’chips” we see one of the men wearing a traditional Pakistani tunic with red jeans, while his friend next to him wears more traditional Western clothing, showing the diversity that exists within this group.

Born in 1981, Hussain has gained recognition and received numerous prizes, including from the Arts Council England, British Council, Arts Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Multistory.

Retratos de Mahtab Hussain musulmanes (2)A graduate of Goldsmith College of the University of London, he has two Masters Degrees from City University London and Nottingham Trent University, and is finishing a PhD in photography at the latter.

Date: Until 1 July 2017. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 11am to 6pm, Thursday 11am to 9pm, Saturdays 12pm to 6pm. Location: Autograph ABP, Rivington Place, London EC2A 3BA. More information here.

Photos: Mahtab Hussain – (Translated by Lucy Daghorn – Email:

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