Muhiba Botan (born 1988 in Mogadishu, lives and works in Antwerp) works around themes of gender, race and identity. As a child of refugees – her parents fled with her from Somalia when she was two years old – she is regularly confronted with her non-European origin and different skin color. Since her Master’s at the Genk department of Luca School of Arts in 2016, she has focused on the view that each person has of both themselves and others, and the prejudices that arise from this. By holding these up to the light, she asks the viewer to think about how and why they are. In her series ‘The Myth of the Other‘ Muhiba plays on the artificially created contrasts between white people and people of color, between ‘our people’ and ‘the others’. In doing so, she is inspired by cultural theorist and sociologist Stuart Hall, who consistently casts critical aspersions on the image that the media presents of non-white people. He argues that you can debunk stereotypes by dissecting them. ‘The Myth of the Other‘ consists of a series of self-portraits, in which Muhiba portrays herself on the one hand as the archetype of the white privileged upper-class girl; on the other as the stereotype of the ‘exotic’, ‘wild’ young woman of color. She puts herself in the shoes of both types and brings them to the point where they start to become fluid.
The ‘tribal warrior girl’ with the yellow rubber shoes and the machine gun is as contrived as the tennis girl with the toothpaste smile.
The Myth of the Other, 70 x 100 cm. Photographic print. 2016