5 (and a bit) Questions with… Zain Dada
Artists have historically always produced work as a means of interrogating belonging, their surroundings, articulating frustration or speaking truth to power.
Amal supported Khidr Collective in publishing and launching their new zine. The publication features poetry, prose and photography, with the objective of giving a voice to young Muslims who feel disenfranchised in society. Khidr Collective seeks to provide spaces for young Muslim artists to discuss prevalent issues and express themselves through a variety of means, including theatrical productions and monthly networking events.
1. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Zain Dada, I’m a writer, poet and project manager. I am also the co-founder of the Khidr Collective. Our project was producing the first of a bi-annual magazine (the Khidr Zine) for young Muslims by young Muslims. It’s important to me because for so many years, I’d be in the car listening to LBC or read the newspaper and hear something about Muslims, usually negative. So for me, it’s empowering to create a piece of regular, physical, grassroots media that is totally uncensored and centre’s the art, media and voices of young Muslims
2. Do you think an artist has a particular role or responsibility in the world?
Certainly. Artists have historically always produced work as a means of interrogating belonging, their surroundings, articulating frustration or speaking truth to power. For the dispossessed in society, art is a coping mechanism and a language of survival.
3. How do you see your role?
I see my role or our role as a collective to be as redistributive as possible. That might be sharing resources or even offering guidance to someone with less social capital.
4. Does identity play a role in your creative craft, and if so how?
In some ways yes. Creative influences include my Dad, R&B duo, Majid Jordan (written quite a few poems whilst listening to them recently) and the writer, Teju Cole.
5. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given over the course of your career?
Two pieces of advice stick out for me:
- “Don’t take shit from anyone.”
- “Don’t ever devalue your labour, be critical about whose getting salaries in the sector, whose ideas are getting taken and be firm in asserting what’s yours.”
A bit more…Where’s your favourite place to see contemporary art?
It’s never in the larger galleries but smaller ones which crop up in areas which tourists don’t usually flock to. One that comes to mind recently was run by the Mile End Community Project which was a photography exhibition on elders and youth in their community.