We Are All Affected explores anxiety within and around Australian Muslim communities, restaging the practice of seven contemporary Australian Muslim artists, curators and writers, from the group known as Eleven.

In July 2017 We Are all Affected began its life at the annual Multicultural Eid Festival located in the Western Sydney suburb of Fairfield, where the seven Australian Muslim artists presented their work to the wider community for the first time. Invited by The Big Anxiety to develop a program that extended community engagement, curators Khaled Sabsabi and Nur Shkembi proposed that exhibiting in a festival beyond the artworld would present a unique test of art’s capacity to build connection. The final evolution of the project, in gallery spaces in Auburn and Fairfield, reveals how the artists’ works were changed by Multicultural Eid Festival experience, and extends wider community engagement through a series of workshops.

Amidst photography, video installation, sculpture, ceramics and interactive media, a series of workshops will be staged, challenging and promoting reflection on the often negatively framed public conversations about Australian Muslims.

Artists featured in the exhibition include Abdul Abdullah, Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Khaled Sabsabi. Rusaila Bazlamit, Cigdem Aydemir, Eugenia Flynn, Abdullah MI Syed and Idil Abdullahi. We Are All Affected is co-curated by Khaled Sabsabi and Nur Shkembi.

Official Launch Fairfield City Museum and Gallery,  Thursday 21 September – 6.30pm – 8.30pm (Artist Panel Discussion ‘On Reflection; Art and Anxiety: 7pm – 8pm)

Auburn Peacock Gallery and Art Studio open from 16 September 11am to 4pm.

Official Launch Auburn, Saturday 23 September – 1.30pm – 3.30pm (Artist Panel Discussion: ‘Anxiety and Islam’: 2.30pm – 3.30pm)


Idil Abdullahi – Henna Workshop (Fairfield)

The art of healing through henna – drawing on Idil’s extensive community engagement expertise a purpose run henna art workshop will facilitate discussions with community about anxiety. Idil often uses this art form to create safe spaces for conversation through the creative and intimate process of henna art.

Cigdem Aydemir – Digital Storytelling (Auburn)

Women in the Minx – Cigdem’s gutsy and at times humorous art practice deals with the stereotypes faced by women from minority communities, in particular, she explores the obscene, sometimes hysterical response to the hijab. Utilising digital media, Cigdem will facilitate a digital story telling workshop with young marginalised women who will each produce their own 1 minute video piece utilising the methodologies employed in Cigdem’s art practice. The participants will be encouraged to bring their own technology and to take home their own power story. An online showcase of the workshop outcomes – Women in the Minx, is an option to publicise the young women’s stories.

Abdul Abdullah – Conspiracy to Commit (Auburn and Fairfield)

Conspiracy to Commit – a workshop with young marginalised male youth led by Abdul Abdullah exploring the concepts of anxiety, distress or anger sometimes faced by young men dealing with relentless negative stereotypes and public imagery. Abdul has presented at numerous public and private high schools as well as a Ted X presentation on issues affecting young men.

Festival Commission.

This project has been assisted by the Australian government through the Department of Communication and the Arts’ Catalyst—Australian Arts and Culture Fund.

Artist Biography

Abdul Abdullah

Abdul Abdullah is an artist from Perth, currently based in Sydney, who works across painting, photography, video, installation and performance. As a self described ‘outsider among outsiders’, his practice is primarily concerned with the experience of the ‘other’ in society. Abdullah’s projects have engaged with different marginalized minority groups and he is particularly interested in the experience of young Muslims in the contemporary multicultural Australian context. Through these processes and explorations Abdullah extrapolates this outlook to an examination of universal aspects of human nature.

In 2009 Abdullah received the Highly Commended in the NYSPP at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra and was named a Perth Rising Star by Insite Magazine.  In 2011 he won the Blake Prize for Human Justice. His works are included in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, The Art Gallery of Western Australia, The Gallery of Modern Art, Artbank, the University of Western Australia, Murdoch University, The Islamic Museum of Australia and The Bendigo Art Gallery.

Abdullah has been shortlisted for the Archibald Prize four times and has won numerous prizes and awards throughout his career. He has recently completed his MFA at CoFA, UNSW.

Abdul-Rahman Abdullah

Abdul-Rahman Abdullah is a West Australian artist whose practice explores the different ways that memory can inhabit and emerge from familial space. Working primarily in sculpture and installation, Abdullah draws on passages of personal history, articulating formative experiences of individual identity within the broader scope of family.

Attending the Victorian College of the Arts in 2010 followed by Curtin University where he  graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 2012. He has been a finalist in the Blake Prize (2013/15), Wynne Prize (2015), Churchie Prize for Emerging Artists (2015), Substation Prize (2014) and Bankwest Art Prize (2014/16). His work has been exhibited recently at major institutes including the Art Gallery of South Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, South Australian Museum and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. Abdullah’s work is held in the collections of Artbank, Islamic Museum of Australia, Campbelltown Art Centre, Murdoch University, University of Western Australia, Wesfarmers, Art Gallery of South Australia and Art Gallery of Western Australia.

Khaled Sabsabi

Khaled Sabsabi was born in 1965, Tripoli, Lebanon and currently lives and works in Sydney, Australia. Sabsabi’s process involves working across art mediums, geographical borders and cultures to create immersive and engaging art experiences. He sees art as an effective tool to communicate with people, through a familiar language.

Khaled was awarded the Helen Lempriere Travelling Art Scholarship in 2010, 60th Blake Prize in 2011, MCG Basil Sellers fellowship in 2014, the Fishers Ghost Prize in 2014 and the Western Sydney ARTS NSW Fellowship 2015. He is represented by Milani Gallery, Brisbane and has 14 works in private, national and international collections. He has also participated in the 3rd Kochi Biennale, 1st Yinchuan Biennale, 5th Marrakech Biennale, 18th Biennale of Sydney, 9th Shanghai Biennale and Sharjah Biennial 11. Sabsabi was recently awarded the Sharjah Art Prize for 2017 whilst his artwork SYRIA was awarded the Video Art Prize at the International Audiovisual Festival on Museum and Heritage 2016 (F@IMP Awards). Sabsabi holds a Master of Arts, Time Based Art major from COFA, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

Rusaila Bazlamit

Rusaila Bazlamit is a digital and interactive designer, and artist. She lectures in, Design, and Digital and Interactive Media. She has exhibited video-art projects, interactive installations worldwide.

She has an online atelier “Lab Tajribi | Experimental Expressions” which is a non-physical art atelier for experimental art, design, and forms of expression.

Rusaila’s research and art practice interests are interactive digital media, design activism, identity politics, and media representations. Currently, Rusaila is completing her PhD in Design at Curtin University. Her PhD research is investigating the potentials of digital interactive installations in carrying complex political narratives experientially and spatially.

Cigdem Aydemir

Cigdem Aydemir is a Sydney-based artist working in the mediums of installation, performance and video art. Her socially and politically engaged art practice investigates possibilities for intersubjective and transcultural communication with an interest in postcolonial and feminist issues. Much of her work expands on the veil as a culturally constructed site and as material realisation, while exploring the veiled woman cipher as resistant female other and as lived experience. Through critiquing, decolonizing and queering mechanisms, Cigdem questions established relations of power, while producing work that is driven equally by research, play, criticism and humour.

Cigdem was the 2013 recipient of the Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize, in the Emerging Artist category, and the Edna Ryan Award for Creative Feminism in 2012. She has exhibited both nationally and internationally receiving support and opportunities from Australia Council for the Arts, Arts NSW, Ian Potter Cultural Trust, Freedman Foundation (Travelling Arts Scholarship), Performance Space (Sydney), Salamanca Arts Centre (Hobart), Dark Mofo (Hobart) and Vryfees (South Africa).

Eugenia Flynn

Eugenia Flynn is a writer, arts worker and community cultural development practitioner. Eugenia identifies as Aboriginal (Tiwi and Larrakia), Chinese Malaysian and Muslim, working within her multiple communities to create change through literature, art, politics and community development.

Eugenia runs the blog Black Thoughts Live Here and has been published in Crikey, The Guardian Australia, The Conversation Australia, Peril Magazine, VICE Magazine, HYSTERIA (UK), Overland, The Lifted Brow, NITV, IndigenousX, and The Victorian Writer. She has presented on writing, advocacy, blogging and digital writing at the University of Wollongong, the West Writers Forum, the Melbourne Writers Festival, the Brimbank Writers and Readers Festival and the Sydney Writers Festival.

Eugenia facilitated the 2012 RISE Festival for RISE Refugees Survivors and Ex-Detainees, an in-conversation solidarity dinner with international activist and writer Angela Davis. In 2015 she was Assistant Curator for Both Sides of the Street at Blak Dot Gallery and as part of the public programs for Both Sides of the Street, she facilitated and hosted a conversation on solidarity between First Nations Australians and non-Indigenous people of colour.  In 2016, Eugenia was named one of Australia’s Top Ten Deadly Bloggers and she is currently the CEO of The Social Studio, a not-for-profit social enterprise that uses fashion and hospitality as a vehicle for engaging refugee and migrant communities in employment and education initiatives.

Dr. Abdullah M.I. Syed

Dr. Abdullah M.I. Syed (b. 1974) is a Pakistani-born contemporary artist and designer working between Sydney, Karachi and New York. His art and design practice is inter-disciplinary and cross-cultural. His work explores ideas around the stereotypes and clichés of identity, particularly as they relate to  economics, gender (especially masculinity), post-colonialism, Orientalism, visual culture, and the (mis)representation of faith. Syed holds a PhD (2015) and a Master of Fine Arts (2009) from UNSW, Sydney.  

His works have been featured in ten solo exhibitions and several national and international curated group exhibitions and performance events such as AsiaTOPA 2017. His awards include the Blacktown Art Prize (2010), the UNSW Postgraduate Research Scholarship (2009) and the IAO Installation Art Award (2003) and was highly commended in the Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize (2014).

Idil Abdullahi

Idil Abdullahi is a ceramic artist who was born in Somalia and arrived in Australia in 1993 as a refugee with her family. She has completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at UNSW Arts and Design, majoring in Ceramics. Aside from her artistic practice, Idil is a community arts and cultural worker who is passionate about utilising the creative Arts as a tool for building stronger and resilient communities. She works with non-government organisations as well as local councils to facilitate relevant creative projects mainly with women and youth from refugee or marginalised communities in local areas. She sees herself as a ‘storyteller by means of the visual arts to communicate issues and ideas that are significant to her and the communities she works with. In her art practice, Idil often uses symbols of faith and culture to examine her personal ideas of identity and belonging.

Thanks to a mentoring grant from Museums and Galleries, Idil was the curator of The African Diaspora Exhibition,a highly successful exhibition that gave voice to many African Australian visual artists. Idil’s work featured at the Casula Powerhouse in 2012 for the No Added Sugar exhibition and she was the recipient of the Strathnairn Artist In Residency grant in 2015.

Idil’s ceramic studio practice is based in Sydney, and her current work explores individual and community ideas and anxieties about separation

Nur Shkembi

Nur Shkembi is a Melbourne based curator and writer. Nur has been part of the team establishing the Islamic Museum of Australia since 2010, and until recently served as the museum’s Art Director, Exhibitions Manager and foundation Curator. Nur has produced and curated more than 150 events, exhibitions and community engagement projects, including You Am I, the first nationwide annual exhibition of contemporary Australian Muslim artists. Nur is on the editorial committee for the journal AICCM Bulletin and is an Academic Teacher and Lecturer in the Masters of Curatorship at the University of Melbourne. Nur is a published author with her debut novel Rookie being distributed nationwide for the Australian high school curriculum by Cengage. Her writing is also featured in the National Gallery of Victoria Gallery magazine and ReOrient international arts magazine.

Nur holds a Masters (First Class Honours) from the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA & MCM) and is currently a PhD candidate at the  University of Melbourne. She is undertaking interdisciplinary research in contemporary material conservation, curatorship, object agency theory and the role of contemporary Muslim artists in post-colonial discourse. Nur is the curator of the Thinkers & Makers Salon at The Good Room in Brunswick East.