Faith: Blind, Wavering, Scaffolding, Hidden and Otherwise

I was born into the Islamic faith, a sect of Shi’a called the Nizari Isma’ili community.
This is an important distinction that I will explore further.
Having dabbled in buddhism there was a time i felt comfortable with the description. ex-muslim.

But after some time, I’ve found my own esoteric interpretation of Isma’ilism, channeled through my art practice. As Artist, Lecturer and friend, Abbas Zahedi would say, ‘why don’t you switch it up, instead of ex-muslim, complex muslim…dunh kno.’
The process of decolonisation required considering the affect of eurocentricity on this turning away from Islamic culture. The shadow of assimilation lurks. Various creative and spiritual rituals are aided by through interventions from experienced Artistic and Psychodynamic practitioners.

Secular Britain?

I feel to challenge a key premise in ‘Religion in Britain: Challenges for Higher Education’; how can this nation be secular when our calendar is Christian?

Furthermore, from a linguistic point of view, the terms are peculiar. The public ‘celebrate’ a break from performing labour on “Bank holidays“. Meanwhile, “Bank Holiday” and “National Public Holiday” are used interchangeably to describe Christian celebrations (Easter/Christmas) speaks to a deliberate blurring of Capital, Faith and Nation.

As such, I believe the path of ‘secularisation’ described by both authors belies an act of normalising eurocentricity or western hegemony. There is something in mainstream co-option as an act of obfuscation. The normalisation of these events obscures and displaces.

Christmas as a calendar fixture, 25th December, has less to do with the birth of Jesus, and may have more to do with traditional Roman winter solstice of Saturnalia, an act of absorbtion/erasure/assimilation of Pagan customs into the Christian religion.

Easter & Christmas have roots in Paganism. 
the USA has 'In God we trust' written on its currency.
Declining religious fervour, increasing financial fervour. 
Capital as the New religion.

Religion, belief and faith identities in learning and teaching
The good, the bad and the ugly.

(Aside: I am so happy that some visual/audio resources have been provided)

The Good,
“Professor Reina Lewis. Dress, Politics, and Belonging post-Brexit, 30 November 2016”
Love it. This is the sort of decolonial work I joined the academy for. I would love to watch more things like this. Eventually I will go over this resource and add the images and references to my personal archive for direct use when discussing the aesthetics of religion & religious garb.

The Bad & The Ugly,
On the flipside is Alain de Botton and the pop philosopher’s Atheism 2.0.
The crux of his argument is that the secular world is bereft of ideas and the solution lies in extracting and exploiting religion. Neo-colonialism from a contemporary pop philosopher comes as no real surprise for an individual who simultaneously claims to fight the cult of individualism, while being a founder of ‘The School of Life’. I’d like to sit there for a moment to consider the implication…founder….of the school of life….right…
A quick google of ‘Alain de Botton critique’ yields About 80,700 results (0.57 seconds).


“The empire of Alain de Botton – Financial Times”

I didn’t make it past the headline.
I have learnt from Alain first hand, I will take what I want (and leave the rest.


Religion is not fixed but fluid.

As such relations towards it are individual. As noted above, my faith position is denoted by birth, belief, position and collective, all of which (but birth) are subject to change over time.

[Anecdotal Conversation]
I recently met a Pakistani LSE Law undergraduate who relayed to me a desire to wear a hijab to university. 

R: I want to wear the Hijab
Z: Go for it, Why don't you?
Z:...Are you worried about safety?
R: No. I feel like the other girls will judge me
Z: Are you wearing it for them?
R: No, I am wearing it because I want to.
Z: Then why are you worried, have you worn one Pakistan?
R: Yes of course, sometimes but not all the time. I just feel like they will judge me, like ohh you weren't wearing it before but now you are. 
Z: I understand you might be feeling self-conscious about how others may perceive this change, but choosing to wear a hijab is up to you. No one can tell you how to practice your faith as long as it's your choice. 
R: This is true
Z: I am not going to lie to you and say that you will be treated the same as before, by your university peers or the wider public. Some people see the hijab as anti-feminist and oppressive. From my understanding, the feminist perspective centres your agency. If you choose to wear the Hijab, that is your choice and your right and I for one will be proud of you.

Note: memories may present me in a favourable light :)

Creed – Mistaken Identities – The Reith Lectures

When reflecting on how Kwame Anthony Appiah deconstructs religion into Practice, Community and Belief was quite interesting. As per my reflection, these three aspects have played a large role in the formation of my academic and artistic practices. As such, when thinking about a student in my care, I must consider the nuances of their beliefs. Which are, by nature, hidden. Here, particular care must be taken as it is often a site of microagressions or outright racism.

I believe that this deconstruction is helpful when considering the nature of people and how we can remain connected to our biographies. Personally, I perceived much performance of faith linked to community and practice more than belief. Especially when there has been religious conflict. As such a notion of Taqiya is present in my community, which translates to prudence/fear, a denial of beliefs in the face of extreme religious persecution. Collective histories are complex, as are the practices and beliefs of a community when forced conversion or absorption and erasure have taken place.

Another key point centred on interpretation and implementation: scriptural determinism and double standards. Religion and contemporary religions (celebrity/sports/tech bros/etc) can have the potential for abuse. See God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens. What this shows is the issue lies within humanity.

The cult of the individual, power, hierarchy and information asymmetry are utilised as tools of control. This is seen in the religious conversions by christian missionaries associated with colonialism. A way out is similarly offered by Kwame Anthony Appiah, in a world desiring certainty, having relaxed convictions while keeping your belief system open for challenge + revision is a super healthy mode of navigating academia.

Religion in Britain: Challenges for Higher Education

Secular states and public religions – That I had written the above comment about the Gregorian calendar and Paganism speaks to an inherent fallacy in the idea of Britain as a secular state.

The ‘vaguely Christian’ UK – Consider the prominence of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the recent gaff concerning Pr*nce Andr£w ‘making amends’.

The question the I have falls from these observations, how deep is the doublespeak?

When we consider the notion of representation and broadcast message, who is a guest and who is permanent? Who represents what in optics and message?

A true secular state would require a de-centring of Christian institutions. Writing this made me think about Christ’s college, founded in 1437 as “God’s House”.

Christ’s college presenting the image of Racial Diversity

I digress, the point is about the student experience. These resources have re-affirmed some beliefs I’ve had and given me ideas to carry forward as my perspective continues to change as I grow. When considering students, I will seek to seek moments to celebrate student positionality, allowing them to centre their faith, if they wish. Similarly, it is also important to consider how inter-belief relations manifest & play out. How to encourage groups to be open with one another, to bridge gaps in culture and community to learn from one another.

Higher Power

The questions that the ToR aims to explore were particularly resonant, and it was no surprise that the wide array of voices chimed in a myriad of ways.

Having travelled the spectrum of relations to religion, spirituality, faith and the lack thereof.

I am reminded of the potential for connection and community, as noted by Muslim Sisterhood (of which one of our colleagues, Zeinab Saleh, is a founding member). Likewise, I have my own experiences of continued Islamaphobia that shaped my positionality and perspective. Reading God is Not Great, by Christopher Hitchens helps me understand the perspective of Bridgett Crutchfield. (I never understood gender segregated prayer areas). Likewise I understand Montana Williamson’s description of foundational values, in her Note from the lead. This journey has ultimately led me back to a very personal interpretation of isma’ili spirituality

This resource has highlighted the need to centre students perspective with respect to others. Though this term is near equal to relation, the notion of respect is poignant for inclusive practice.

My personal art practice investigates Dream Work, so the chapter Surah Yusuf, was also of particular note. Of course, the key question of gender springs to mind. The story highlights patriarchal notions entwined with the divine spirit. Yusma the slave harrased by her ‘master’, paints a quite different picture. This provocation may (not?) be productive, but it is important to facilitate such a conversation carefully if a student were to make such a statement.

Disability: a pejorative ^umbrella^

Blog Intro
These posts are written in the (relatively) raw form of an iterative brain dump.
This is to provide an insight into my thought patterns and processes.
It also allows me to challenge traditional forms of publishing and assessing.
The intention is to allow research, writing, pause and reflective practice leading to praxis.
As such it will be tangental, anecdotal, contradictory and subject to change.
It is also important to acknowledge harmful normative ideologies often lie latent and so I apologise in advance for any offence of harm caused in the course of this exploration.
^This denotes an addition/amendment/comment.^

Dis- or Dys- prefixes come from New Latin & Ancient Greek. (‘Hard, Difficult, Bad’)
How can we possibly approach each other as equals when our language is embedded with notions of hierarchy, idealised forms and traditionalism. 

My positionality (with respect to disability.)
My father suffers from a physical disability.
Words have always been harder than shapes and numbers.
Neurodiversity is under diagnosed in POC.
My mental health ‘problems’ could be considered a disability.

One second there buddy…remember Mark Fisher & Capitalist Realism.
Toil & trouble, pain & strife are not side effects, they are features of capitalism.
Inability to function as a cog in said system does not imply fault with the ‘cog’.
The assumptions made by the framing device must be interrogated.
Who defines this system of normativity by which we judge ability?

Given my interest in Artaud’s physical knowledge of images and the interdimensional nature of images: mental, still, moving and sonic, Christine Kim’s work into the physicality of sound struck a chord.

Kim’s exploration of a personal understanding of the worlds generates a world of knowledge that is beyond the access of the traditionally abled. (In my opinion, this label of disability constitutes a problem – tautology/paradox?). Does this new dimension of knowledge adjust our entire frame of understanding, rendering us as the disabled for lacking the ability to access this world of knowledge.

The resonance goes beyond a personal creative interest into the academic. In conversation with Dr Kwame Baah, I noted the notion of learning styles.

(Tangent incoming) Is the 'dis-' in disability ignoring the innate creativity of the diverse spectrum of ability. Consider that ideas and technologies emerge from interaction with the natural world. Encountering challenges has led to technical and technological innovation of today. Many creatives and entrepreneurs are neurodiverse; with dyslexia and ADHD being common amongst creative individuals. That dyslexia has led to many creative ideas through an alternative reading of a given stimulus provides evidence of a new way of seeing.
Taking a historical perspective, technological advances in portable lens systems mounted to the bridge of the nose mean we no longer consider short-sightedness to be a 'disability'. 
^Carrying this thought to the sci-fi absurd: how will biohacking and human enhancement alter our perception on ability? See N£tflix's Altered Carbon. For the financial elite, the super-capitalist cosmetics industrial complex crafts supermodel sleeve-like-bodies with porn-proportions. In this universe, gratuitous nudity is a display of wealth. Under this premise, what constitutes 'disabled'? Apart from being poor, of course, which blocks you from accessing the market.^

^This is not to ignore the obvious challenges of those who suffer visible and invisible access challenges, mental or physical health issues. These examples must be considered specifically and structurally in order to bridge access gaps and provide adequate support. There is much to be challenged in the above analog, but this final point is pertinent, it is the responsibility of the institution to counter this through an act of bridge building. See Sara Ahmed.^

Thinking in terms of relation of this resource to my teaching practice.

What if instead of considering ability as in relation to a normative baseline, we considered it a preference or inclination akin to learning styles. As such, those who have clear access issues such as a visual impairment, would rely on other senses to engage in knowledge exchange (braille and touch, auditory learning styles and problem based activities) can provide an embodied understanding of a thing.

Building on learning styles, experience has taught me that large blocks of text scare me (ironic I know) but is also the easiest way to explore the super-ego in an economical fashion. I learn primarily through audio, which is another reason why conversation is so vital to my pedagogic practice. It is through verbal exchange and working through examples (kinaesthetic) that I have been able to form muscle memory.

In this way we are looking to merge multiple forms of thinking.
An orientated mind with relative characteristics, abilities and personal preferences. These can subsequently be used to refine methods of delivery.

Exercise: Consider various subalterns and speculative questions that arise*

Jewish Latinx Trans Non Binary Sex Worker MA Fine Art @ CSM
Disclosed Mental Health condition
Disclosed dyslexic
Medication for transition
Stigma & interpersonal safeguarding - sensitive nature of artistic practice
Deportation fears resulting from employment
The institution should pay special attention to any latent stigma concerning the intersectional nature of this individual. 
^Pastoral confidentiality and strict safeguarding procedures. Check ins during 1:1s where suitable.^
^Direct towards appropriate resources when/if necessary.^

Wheelchair bound Queer South African international student, MA Fashion Futures @ LCF
How to bridge access gap?
To what extent are in person events fully accessible? 
If this is not possible, why not? Can this be escalated further (change room/location) as learning opportunities should be equally accessible to all students. 
Do they have access to peers/tutors with a similar lived experience of intersectionality?
As a student coming from a country not clearly affiliated with UAL's international 

Persistently absent student, BA Course @ UAL
Are they okay? 
They've never turned up but they hand in work?
Any access or personal problems?
Are they commuting from another city or working to survive?
Is there a long term (physical/mental) health issue?
Do they require further support?
Are online resources sufficient?
Can online support be offered to support remote tutoring?
Are they satisfied with this level of engagement?

These are not entirely fabricated personas, but are adaptations and speculative imaginings intended to briefly illustrate questions that may result from considering delivery for a particular cohort

We cannot make assumptions but only provide an opportunity for the provision of evidence. Following said evidence, appropriate steps can/should be taken to scaffold the learning of the individual concerned.

Given the challenging nature of arts education and connections to the highest level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it is vital to pay special attention to the mental wellbeing of students.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs | Simply Psychology

Get Intersectional
Kimberlé Crenshaw’s work in American Automotive employment disputes launched by African American Women has provided the basis for considering the structural failure in providing opportunities to those who belong to multiple groups of marginalised peoples.
#DisabilityTooWhite is another example of intersectional failings. That this campaign has spread through social media, as opposed to traditional/legacy media, is pertinent. It speaks to the right wing press of the UK & its processes to mute, distract and divert attention away from reality. Personal experience from advertising has highlighted how the capitalists and their puppeteers will strategically utilise the image of Black athletes and disabled fans to promote their capitalis-tech platform. This is a cynical attempt at communication with the masses, in a one-to-many format, that belies the truth.

^ The resource shared takes me back to a pop culture icon deserving of iconoclasm (imo). And that is Friends. For those that don’t know, this is a blatant rip off of Living Single. First aired in ’93, it didn’t take long before Capital and its agents mined Black American culture, not for the first or last time.

This launches questions over appropriation and white eurocentricity in anglophone broadcast media. Taking this example and coming back to the question of #DisabilitySoWhite, and the afore-quoted tweet, where would a Black Disabled Woman protagonist come from? Who would air such a show? And ultimately, is appropriation by the mainstream inevitable? (Q: what is the mainstream? Digital/Physical? Western. Anglophonic. Eurocentric…etc)

The answer has emerged throughout this Inclusive Practices unit. A cynical media executive may have retroactively labelled one character as having a hidden disability. But good creative work comes from truth and at the intersection of disability and race, lived experience of both is crucial to an authentic representation in creative media…it is not enough for me to imagine my situation as medically disabled and create from that imagined position. Similarly a disabled individual cannot imagine their way into a lived experience of being racialised.

How to move forward? Encourage the next generation to lean into their own positionality. Let it frame their thinking and give them direction. Let questions light the way.

Page 11, Disabled People (2020) By Shades of Noir


Blahovec, S. (2017) “Confronting the Whitewashing of Disability: Interview with #DisabilityTooWhite Creator Vilissa Thompson”, HuffPost. Available at: (Accessed: 11 May 2022).

Richards, A. and Finnigan, T. (2015) ‘Embedding equality and diversity in the curriculum: An art and design practitioner’s guide.’ York: Higher Education Academy. Available at: (Accessed: 11 May 2022).​

Todd Selby x Christine Sun Kim (2011) Directed by T. Selby. Performance by Christine Sun Kim. Available at: (Accessed: 11 Mar 2022)

Living Single Official website (archived). (1993-2005). Available at: (Accessed: 24 May 2022)

UAL Disability Service Webpages (2022). Available at: (Accessed: 24 May 2022)

Disabled People (2020) By Shades of Noir et al. Available at: (Accessed: 24 May 2022)

Disabled People, Diversity Questions:

De-centring competition

After a crit on competition & its inevitability...(?)

I believe competition (especially in a capitalist frame) to be an inherently colonial practice.

Reflecting on the first ‘multi-national corporations’, a rush to extort resource was at the heart of the Indies companies of certain European nations.

And when we consider certain European nations, artistic genius of the Renaissance appeared after war and squaller. Through master-apprentice exchange, classical works emerged.

This may be a flat reading of history but I believe it illustrates a certain point.

We can choose to see resource as finite for extraction.
Zero sum neoliberalism.

Or we can consider how much space we need, and build with enough for others near and around is. Build each other up when we like what the other is doing. Build big or small, it doesn’t matter, because the greatest artists are not (necessarily) defined by size or rarity of materials.

While certain 0 sum situations exist and competition dominates these environments (any ‘Head of’ position), there must be a way for even these spaces to exist where the creation is at the core.

The problem and solution, or feeling to explore and connect.

It doesn’t matter what the art is, music artists are as important as visual ones.

and in 2022, there is enough resource to go around, so why not just do what you can and focus on what you want to do?

Competition is about taking what is there.

Collaboration is about giving as much as you feel comfortable.

Microteach Pt 5: The Cohort

Microteach pre-submission reflection, what has stuck with me?

Images in alternative media & the virtual learning space.
This requires great consideration and investment to do to a high level.
Eliott’s 3D had great affect. I was enamoured for a large amount of time.
It was tactile that allowed me to embody images in an Artaudian sense.
The Virtual Knowledge of Images, perhaps?

Depth, simplicity and tactility.
A sense of theatre and personal connection.
Shumi’s microteach used object-based learning in a wonderful way.

Not being able to see them all
Short time to introduce an idea, but many ways to approach.
Going deep & direct, a meandering path, from many angles, out from a point.
To what end? The intention behind the gesture is key.

How do I relate this to my practice?
A Virtual Knowledge of Images is quite interesting tbh.
It’s interesting to use this with the mundane: virtual learning tools collectively taking us beyond the dimension of individual homes.

Homing Pigeon Vs Starling Murmurations (or An Ode To Paolo Freire)

These two videos quite aptly illustrate and describe my opinion on the education I received, vs the education I wish to be a part of.

This distinction is important. The intention is key but the creation requires willing partners. Birds who recognise a mutual desire to fly (converse/learn) and want to move together. Play and show off, as questions and push ourselves/each other.

The homing pigeon is an outdated model akin to Paolo Freire’s notion of a ‘banking system of education’. As someone pushed towards a career in banking (or finance at the very least), I have particular disdain for this notion. I want students to experience their ability to affect the environment, how important that is to their learning experience, and as a result, why their attendance is key. It is the intelligent side of democracy, small and nimble enough to keep accountability intact.

Waiting for Godard


Yeah so I love Waiting for Godot and Jean-Luc Godard.

Despite my disdain for puns…one should never pass up a silver platter.

On to more pressing matters, much of the reason I am here is a result of Godard.

I am the fugitive running from the camera, clambering, slowly stumbling through the street.

Barely trying but only really failing at giving up, until there is nothing left to give.

It’s a poetic end to an iconic film. This was an image I carried with me.

I could cite Nam June Paik’s comment on culture. I will: The culture that’s going to survive is culture you can carry around in your head. Arthur Jafa talks about Black music being living proof and the greatest example of the notion. It’s hard to disagree. But many images hold that mantle in many memory palaces. (The idea that our minds store memories in a palace where we can store and access images, information and ideas).

The jump cuts of the car scene occupy that position in my mind.

The nothingness of À bout de souffle kills me. I love it tenderly and it is because of Godard’s many works that I have come full circle to….

A pedagogy of images.

That the first text I selected in the first exercise would bring me back to my cinematic godfather is poetic justice.

The works I wish to emulate are somewhat different. But this is a gallery of Godard’s notion ‘It is necessary to confront vague ideas with clear images’


Idées vagues/images claires:

Microteach Pt 4: Go Further

Consider the ability and positionality of learners. Consider the disabled queer PoC. The subaltern, or not. This hypothetical person may have anxiety or be blind. How can my delivery accommodate their needs and positionality?

Perhaps I will consider images that utilise all considered/usable senses? Something that is traversable? Interdimensional? This is context specific as many different objects can be used to illustrate a given learning outcome.

Text (is approximately) equal to…
Photo (is approximately) equal to…
GIF (is approximately) equal to…
Sound sample (is approximately) equal to…
Pattern swatch.

Can I illustrate this through an example?

Burberry pattern. Image. Text. Audio. Textile. Video.
Tick tock clock. Still Image. Text. Audio. Touch. Textile. Video.
Mint. Still Image. Text. Taste. Smell. Audio.

This is what I mean by interdimensional images and what I believe Artaud points towards when he speaks of a physical knowledge of images on a surface level. Going deeper I believe it is about the physical evocation of emotion.

In the above examples they could be:
Mother Nature