Somali Museum: Any-Space-Whatever

  • London, United Kingdom - Saturday 29 April 2023, Numbi Arts - DJ Elmi.

    Somali Museum UK: Any-Space-Whatever, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 13 June 2023 – 10 September 2023. Photo: Rehan Jamil

Past Exhibition

This exhibition was on 14 June - 1 October 2023

Access Information

Somali Museum: Any-Space-Whatever

Ilhan – to be oriented by divine inspiration and ancestral knowledge.  

Somali Museum UK is a virtual and physical container for the varied stories of Somalia and Somali people based globally and in the UK. Combining an art gallery, library, archive, museum, dance and music studio in one space, the museum radically reimagines what a ‘museum’ is and what it can do.  

Presenting a selection of film, photography, music and sound media, Somali Museum: Any-Space-Whatever is the first exhibition of the museum. It includes work by artists who have been in conversation with the museum, including Elmi Original, Rahma Hassan, Ahmed Abokar, Fuad Abdulaziz and Amaal Alhaag with Nadine Stijns of The Anarchist Citizenship. Specially commissioned artworks will be gifted to the museum. 

The exhibition engages with museum practices and ethics concerning the acquisition of art collections and the role of artefacts in fostering cultural understanding. Together with a public programme and series of writings, the exhibition acts as an ‘atelier’ or workshop for Somali Museum UK within and contra Whitechapel Gallery. On Saturday afternoons throughout the summer, a Somali language café will be hosted here, welcoming all learners of Somali.  

Somali Museum UK is incubated and led by Numbi Arts, a Somali-originated, globally-focused, Pan-African cross-arts organisation based in Tower Hamlets. Named after a Somali dance, Numbi is about healing, release, and celebrating the joy of community. Join us on 29 June for Numbi Fest, an evening of live performances, music, film and celebration.    

Somali Museum: Any-Space-Whatever contributes to Life Is More Important Than Art, a summer-long season of exhibitions, installations, performances, talks and film screenings that explore the interface between art and everyday life.  

About the contributors:

Ahmed Abokor

Ahmed Abokor is a designer who has dedicated most of his career to the field of visual communication. His work often explores new forms of expression and pushes the limits of what is possible. In addition to his design work, Ahmed is also one-half of Looty, an art collective based in London. Looty is known for its disruptive heist performance art, which challenges the idea of what a traditional museum is and what art can be. Their performances involve elaborate heists that take place within museums and other cultural institutions, turning the traditional art world on its head and forcing viewers to question their assumptions about the nature of art and the institutions that support it. Through his work with Looty and his individual design projects, Ahmed is constantly pushing boundaries and exploring new forms of expression. His art is a celebration of creativity, innovation, and the power of disruption to challenge our assumptions and help us see the world in new and exciting ways. 

Amal Alhaag

Amal Alhaag is an Amsterdam-based independent curator, dj, and researcher who develops ongoing experimental and collaborative research practice, public programs, and projects on global spatial politics, archives, colonialism, counter-culture, oral histories, and popular culture. Her projects and collaborations with people, initiatives, communities and institutions invite, stage, question, and play with “uncomfortable” issues that riddle, rewrite, remix, share, and compose narratives in impermanent settings. 

The Anarchist Citizenship

The Anarchist Citizenship is a collaborative research project that looks into the ways storytelling, visual culture, architecture and  social life (re)shape citizenship in Somaliland and its Diaspora. Initiated by Nadine Stijns and Amal Alhaag, in collaboration with Mustafa Saeed and other artists, thinkers, architects, and activists based in Somalia/Somaliland and its diasporas. The project focuses on the ways in which storytelling, visual culture, architecture, and social life shape citizenship in this region and its diasporas. How can we avoid, refuse, or obscure the colonial gaze and create images that challenge the status quo? What power dynamics are at play when capturing an image, and what does it take to create images that celebrate the multiplicity of identities and experiences that sustain cultures in times of ongoing crises? These sets of questions animate The Anarchist Citizenship as a project that facilitates self-determined stories and collaborative strategies to explore the possibilities of visual narratives and facilitate oral cultures that challenge the normative status quo. 

Dr Fuad Abdulaziz Mohamed

Dr Fuad Abdulaziz Mohamed is a university lecturer and researcher with a rich educational and professional background. He holds a PhD in TV and Film Directing from the University of Essex, an MA in Audiovisual Production from London Guildhall University, and a BA in Print Journalism from Lafole National University. Dr Fuad has taught at various universities, including Ajman University, University of Sharjah, American University in the Emirates, West Virginia State University, and at Qatar University. With a focus on film studies and broadcast journalism, Dr Fuad’s research interests include visual musicality, documentary film production, TV news, and the impact of new multimedia technologies. He has participated in international film festivals with his films, winning awards and publishing scholarly articles. Additionally, he has organised film competitions and workshops for students, and his students’ films have been selected and awarded in film festivals. Dr Fuad is proficient in multiple languages, including Arabic, English, Somali, and Italian. 

Kinsi Abdulleh 

Artist, curator, co-director of Numbi and founder of the Somali Museum, Kinsi Abdulleh has worked in East London for thirty years. She is an interdisciplinary artist and co-director of Numbi, a Somali-led, African-centred culture and heritage organisation. Numbi’s work centres on people whose voices are suppressed or ignored, both within their own communities and in wider society. Their latest project is the Somali Museum, which was crowdfunded over the Spring 2020 lockdown. 

Elmi Original

Elmi Original is a music producer, multi-instrumentalist, and a budding all-round creative hailing out of London,
UK. Known for flipping Somali samples into up-tempo, high energy dance beats along with making
beats across genres from Afrobeat, Amapiano, Afrohouse, RnB and Hip Hop

About Somali Museum UK

Somali Museum UK is a virtual and physical container that tells the many varied stories of Somalia and Somali people in the UK and beyond. The museum radically reimagines what a ‘museum’ is and what it can do. Combining an art gallery, library, archive, museum, dance and music studio as well as cultural centre into one space, Somali Museum UK collapses traditional museum models and their colonial conception – becoming a home where stories of past, present and futures can grow and flourish. 

Generously supported by:

Sir Frank Bowling

the Life Is More Important Than Art Exhibition Circle

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