Hasan & Husain ESSOP

Born 1985. The Essop twins have been collaborating since their graduation from the University of Cape Town in 2007.

Their preoccupation is the role of the individual in society, in particular the space that Muslim youth occupy and negotiate in a secular environment. In Islam the use of the figure, including the eyes, is controversial and the artists are careful about limiting this representation to their own bodies and assuming responsibility for it. They are not interested in making objective statements – the questions they ask are personal and intimate and they perform these questions, and the search for answers, with their own bodies. “We also speak of the split personality within ourselves. That’s why our previous work was made up of so many [characters] all wearing different costumes representing the different facets of one’s self.”

Hasan and Husain admire Marcel Duchamp and Salvador Dali, and they sometimes look at the photographs as dreams, a memory or dream they have experienced and which they try to recreate: “Our work is quite surreal, in the sense that in some photographs it is impossible for it to be reality. It’s fake – there are five of us.” The photographs occupy a space fraught with tensions, between documentation and narrative, between the spontaneous and the staged, and between overt expression and what is left unsaid.

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