Gallery Takeover: BAXSAN and Friends 

  • Image 1: The sky at sunset with a caption reading

    Image courtesy of Kiara Mohamed from Soft Boys (2021)

Past Event

This event was on Thursday 3 November, 6:30pm

Access Information

Workshops, Meditations, DJs & Films

Thursday 3 November | 6:30pm | Free

The newly named BAXSAN Collective takes over the Whitechapel Gallery.  

The Somali word BAXSAN translates to ‘the emancipated one’; it is a symbol of freedom. Freedom from the confines of societal expectation and homogenous experiences. 

The BAXSAN and Friends Takeover is an invitation to all to celebrate [re]birth and reclamation in an evening of multi-sensorial, multimedia artistic practices. 

About BAXSAN Collective 

BAXSAN are a group of artists and community facilitators who have been meeting regularly at Whitechapel Gallery for four years, born out of shared frustrations amongst the founding members about the lack of support for Black and/or Muslim LGBTQI+ people in London, later expanding to the UK. It was born with the intention to build a support system for very much neglected groups; to create connection, community and art through shared lived experiences.

Event Programme


Reading Room and chillout space in the Study Studio

Drinks by Townsend in the Foyer and Creative Studio


6:30 – 8:30 PM          

Film Screenings, Zilkha Auditorium

Khush (1991) Dir. Pratibha Parmar, 26 min

Soft Boys (2021) Dir. Kiara Mohamed, 15 min

With Love From Munera (2020) Dir. Yazmeen Kanji, 13 min

Where Communities Dwell (2021) Dir: Fartun X Jack, 4 min

SKYE. (2019) Dir. Bilansu, 4 min

Xishood (2020) Dir. Maroodi, 1 min


6:45 – 7:30 PM

Workshop, Reading Room

I Can Show You Better Than I Can Tell You with BAXSAN Collective


7:00 – 8:00 PM

Meditations, Gallery 2

With BamBam, Gallery 2 – Max. capacity of 10 people (a sign up sheet is available outside Gallery 2)


7:30 – 8:15 PM  

DJ Set, Creative Studio 

DJ Seksu


7:45 – 8:45 PM     

Workshop, Reading Room       

Is ‘Coming Out’ Relevant to Us? with Heuxda


8:15 – 9:00 PM      

DJ Set, Creative Studio 



9:00 – 9:45 PM   

DJ Set, Creative Studio 

DJ raks2riches

Film Programme:

Khush (1991) 

Dir. Pratibha Parmar

Running time: 26 min

KHUSH means ecstatic pleasure in Urdu. For South Asian lesbians and gay men in Britain, North America, and India (where homosexuality was legalised in 2018, the term captures the blissful intricacies of being queer and of color. Inspiring testimonies bridge geographical differences to locate shared experiences of isolation and exoticization but also the unremitting joys and solidarity of being “khush”. Accentuated by beautifully lit dream sequences, dance segments and a dazzlingly sensuous soundtrack, this uplifting documentary conveys the exhilaration of a culturally rooted experience of sexuality.

Pratibha Parmar is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, video artist and professor. Her work has been widely exhibited at international film festivals and broadcast globally. Pratibha’s dedication in bringing complex subjects into mainstream media has helped change the contours of popular discourse on race, feminism, sexuality and creativity.

Soft Boys (2021)

Dir. Kiara Mohamed

Running time: 15 min

Soft Boys is a short film about queer and trans joy, specifically through and within the Somali culture and community. By re-engaging with Somali traditional dances, cooking practices and garments, Kiara connects with his nomadic ancestors and to a heritage from which he had always been made to feel excluded. In this solo exhibition, Kiara’s new work highlights how modern concepts of masculinity can be surprisingly conservative, even within the trans community. The experimental documentary questions what it means to be a man by focusing on emotion, empathy and joy.

Kiara Mohamed is a Somali, queer, trans multidisciplinary artist based in Liverpool, working in photography, filmmaking, poetry, and artisanal handicraft. His work examines the ways we exist alongside one another and our environment, as well as what happens when we readdress our trauma through moments of radical joy. His films champion care and mindfulness and explore how art can allow for transformation, adaptation and healing.

With Love From Munera (2020)

Dir. Yazmeen Kanji

Running time: 13 min

A young storyteller, Munera Yusuf, walks us through the spaces that have shaped her healing and growth from some of the most trying moments of her past. Her journey illustrates that self-discovery is an ongoing process rather than an ultimate destination. Munera’s high-spirited personality and eclectic style easily capture attention and hearts as she expresses the importance of self-awareness through life’s unforeseeable changes.

Yazmeen Kanji is a Muslim Indo-Caribbean filmmaker, the Advocacy and Outreach Lead at BIPOC TV & Film, as well as the founder of Films With A Cause – a consulting startup for authentic storytelling practices. Her first funded film, With Love From Munera (2020), premiered at the Inside Out Film Festival, screened at TIFF Next Wave 2021 and the 2021 Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival and won the 2021 Breakthroughs Film Festival Audience Choice Award. Her first narrative short about an Indo-Caribbean Muslim teen who daydreams throughout her day will be released in the Fall of 2023.

Kelet (2020) 

Dir. Susani Mahadura

Running time: 54 min

Kelet is a young Somali trans woman who dreams of becoming a Vogue model. Leaving her family in Manchester to return to her childhood home in Finland, she draws on the support of her friends in the Vogue community to immerse herself in Helsinki’s glamour. Watch this shy and courageous young woman build a new life for herself, face her fears and her past, and succeed in following her dreams.

Susani Mahadura, director, writer and journalist, has become a household name in Finnish media through her award-winning national radio programme Mahadura & Özberkan. A weekly show on national radio YLE discussing social and political issues in Finnish society. She is also known for HasBeen (2018) and Me elokuvantekijät (2020).

Where Communities Dwell (2021)

Dir: Fartun Abdulle, Jack Ryder

Running time: 4 min

This film is a love letter to Liverpool, where both of the artists call home, and their strong roots to Liverpool despite recent stories of racial and homophobic hate crimes (2020/2021) and how this affects our experience in the city. The poem, co-written by Abdulle and Ryder, juxtaposes their adoration of the city and its people with the grim reality of its history with slavery, and how this affects the lives of black people living in Liverpool today.

Jack X Fartun are an artistic duo who share a nomadic life history which they feel is vital to the way they work and create. The artists paint pictures of where they are at the time and try to capture a realistic portrayal of life, the good and the bad, highlighting themes of oppression.

SKYE. (2019)

Dir. Bilansu

Running time: 4 min

Storytelling is a common thread weaved throughout my work.  I made this piece in collaboration with my friend Skye Gabriel, we would spend days sharing stories and getting lost in the visuals, that’s how SKYE came to be.

SKYE is a journey of self discovery, tension and release.

Bilansu (they/them) is a Somali genderqueer multidisciplinary Visual Artist, who explores the nuances of sexuality, identity, culture and gender. 

through a range of mediums Their work in Make-up artistry and Creative direction explores these concepts; from moving image, fashion editorials, art direction to community workshops. 

Instagram: @bilansu


Xishood (2020)

Dir. Maroodi

From Maroodi, the Creative Director: 

Xishood is a short film about the policing of women’s bodies in Somali households. ‘Xishood’ means shameful. It is a word a lot of people who have been socialized as women hear starting from a very young age. In this film, you see a non-binary person redefine their relationship to their body beyond xishood. 

From Ami, the model: 

‘Naya xishoo’ is something that was so ingrained in me growing up. My body was policed and critiqued to fit an identity box that wasn’t me. Taking my ownership back over my body was the best thing I did for myself. To be migrant trans, gay and muslim is a lot at times. I am thankful and in love with every part of my body despite all the pain of being treated and seen as a commodity. I love every stage that I have been in. Shame, guilt and fear are not as loud as they were, because I am proud to exist with or without fabric to cover me. 

Maroodi (she/her) is a visual artist/writer based in New York City. She creates art to explore and share stories about her multiple identities. Her work mostly centers gender, sexuality, spiritually, and culture. 


I Can Show You Better Than I Can Tell You with BAXSAN Collective

This session will explore the question – In an ideal world, what would community look like? 

We will be using the short story, ‘Watering My Imagination’ by Author Diriye Osman. A story infused with love and optimism from the perspective of a Mother coming to terms with her daughter’s sexuality.

This workshop will be led by Ibby Nur, a facilitator and community organiser for BAXSAN Collective. 


Is 'Coming Out' Relevant to Us? with Heuxda

Is ‘Coming Out’ Relevant to Us? Discussing the Western Paradigm of ‘Coming Out’ through Queer, British-Somali Perspectives.

Heuxda (she/her) is a creative storyteller, performer and workshop facilitator that primarily uses writing and photography to critically explore intersectional diaspora Somali identity through the relevant contemporary and historical cultural frameworks. Her work has been published by popular African arts & culture platforms as well as award-winning media platforms dedicated to writers of colour.

DJ Sets:


AMZ has graced the decks at some of London’s best queer nights, Pxssy Palace, PDA and BBZ to name a few alongside monthly residences on Rinse and Balamii radio stations. A mash-up of cunty house, afrobeats and nostalgic hip-hop, her sets have taken her across Europe and the UK several times. Outside of clubland, AMZ has graced cultural landmarks like the V&A, Tate Modern, and Tate Britain on several occasions.

DJ raks2riches

DJ raks2riches is a multi-genre DJ and sound artist who has performed at a number of nights such as Let’s Have a Kiki, Pxssy Palace, Numbi Arts Fest, Boiler Room, Cocoa Butter Club and Femmi Errect.

Raks’ style lends a big focus to club, house and ballroom music among other genres and sub-genres of Queer, Black origin. Their mixes aim to evoke unabashed joys on the dance floor.

DJ Seksu

DJ Seksu is an Algerian DJ, fusing their passion for electropop and club bangers with an ever-growing collection of tracks from around the world. 

Seksu has mixed for Soho House, and nights like Pxssypalace and Pride of Arabia. Whether it’s Electro, soul, R&B, raï, house, or K-pop you can find yourself vibing to anything with Seksu.