99 Red Chadors by Anida Yoeu Ali
99. Imagine 99 women. Imagine 99 Muslim women. Imagine 99 Muslim women and transgendered bodies. Imagine them covered in red. Not blood. Imagine our bodies whole. Still covered. Head to toe. Shiny. Shimmering. Sparkling. Sequins. Imagine 99 bodies dressed in sequined red chadors. Imagine you know what a chador is. Imagine the Muslim body beneath the sheath. Imagine you are not scared. Imagine you are smiling and joyful as this brigade of 99 Muslim bodies, covered head to toe, in sparkling sequined red chadors stand before you against a lush landscape of everything you hold holy. 99 bodies in red chadors slowly walking between sky and land. Between you and your fears. But you are smiling, warm and embracing. 99 Muslim bodies walk towards you. In red. Not blood. A brigade of 99, a dance legion, a rhythm nation, a small army of peace, an unarmed militia of strength, a congregation, a moving image slowly walking towards you. In red. Not blood. Mighty. Proud. Glorious. Muslim. Women. Trans. Bleeding brightness. Not blood but sunshine. Sparkling. Shimmering. Shiny. Head to toe Still Covered. In Red. Not Blood. Red Chadors. Right. In. Front. Of. You. 99.
I am a first generation Muslim Khmer woman born in Cambodia and raised in America.
In 1979, my family fled Cambodia as refugees. I learned later that nearly two million Cambodians were killed by the Khmer Rouge regime. Cambodian Muslims were targeted for execution and a total of 90% of the country's artists were annihilated.
I believe survival is an instinct the body remembers well. I do not need to have memories of violence to know that the experience of genocide has never left my body. My body is central to my performance works. Each time I perform, I carry my parents' courage, legacy and histories with me, because our very existence is an act of protest.
Rooted in performance, my artistic practice spans installation, poetry, media arts, public encounters and political agitation. I am currently Artist-in-Residence at the University of Washington Bothell where I teach art, performance and global studies.
#Imagine2037 celebrates the 20th anniversary of the British Council's Edinburgh Showcase by inviting artists who are migrants, from all over the world, to imagine the future with us.
We've asked eight artists to write about a performance that takes place in 20 years' time on Arthur's Seat, a hilltop overlooking Edinburgh. Watch out for all the imaginary performances in the series – we're releasing one a day from 19–26 August.
Imagine 2037 is curated by Andy Field, Alma Salem, Cathy Gomez and Matt Beavers.
Follow the Imagine 2037 series:
> Droneful: Farah Salah invites us to a participatory performance with drones
Find out more:
> Read Andy Field's feature on Imagine 2037
> See the line-up of artists taking part in Imagine 2037