Hiba Ali Talks to Hyperallergic about Art, Language, Tech, and Oppression

March 8, 2021

Photo from Hiba Ali's artwork 'Abra'

Assistant Professor of Art Hiba Ali does not create art to fit within the white-centered spaces that have historically dominated the art world, and still do.

“I create work for my community: my friends, family, and peers whose work I admire, as the people closest to me give the most honest, constructive criticism,” Ali recently told Hyperallergic. “The idea of ‘success’ solely through showing in New York City or a blue chip gallery is outmoded. Beyond that path, artists are often cultural workers, organizers, and teachers.”

Ali continues, “museums in the West serve as ‘cabinets of curiosities’ for artifacts pilfered from the global South during the colonial era and onward. I’m not interested in discourses of reform because these very institutions are upheld by white supremacist structures of funding, hiring, and patronage.”

In a Q&A with Hyperallergic, Ali has a wide-ranging discussion with curator and artist Jennifer Chan, covering topics from working in an Amazon warehouse and witnessing the exploitation of its workers to exploring their ancestry in the Indian Ocean region.

“I’ve always struggled with finding community. That’s why I started tareef, a queer Muslim reading group, created reading lists on the Black Indian Ocean, and conducted research on Amazon, surveillance and labour,” Ali said. “It is really DIY, people may come and go, but I realize I can’t wait around for someone else to start it. If it doesn’t exist, then build it, and others will join you.”

Ali—a digital artist, scholar, curator, and music producerjoined the School of Art + Design this fall and teaches courses in art and technology.

Read the full interview in Hyperallergic’s story, “On Language, Technology, and Power: Jennifer Chan in Conversation with Hiba Ali.”