The project originally envisaged a range of artistic outputs, including video art, photography, static graphic art installations and live immersive events in galleries and public spaces involving sound design, dance and film projection and inviting audience participation or immersion in prayer experiences. Drawing on a core of video material, the project was to migrate from the UK to Melbourne Australia and to Johannesburg SA, at each stop interviewing members of local Muslim communities about their experiences of prayer and weaving material from their narratives into the performative and static elements. The latter was to include an installation of graffitied prayer matts sporting quotations from local Muslims’ stories. Each locality, then, would have its own locally focussed version of the project, and would take place in dance studio, galleries, though also spill out in urban spaces for impromptu engagement events.
The COVID-19 Pandemic complicated the development and delivery of project, though did not de-rail it. Many of the original outputs may go ahead at a later date, or in modified forms. In the lockdown period from March 2020 to date, however, a new dimension has been added to the project. As the focus of prayer shifted from churches, temples, synagogues and mosques to private homes, from congregation to private prayer, so many sought to compensate for this disconnection by connecting digitally to share worship and their experiences. Making a virtue of the necessity, Ali’s collaborators Dr James Hodkinson (Warwick University) currently based in Melbourne, has been using remote interviewing techniques not only to archive audio visual footage of Muslims at prayer, but to document how social distancing rules have impacted and challenged Muslim communities local to him, and also how those communities have responded and adapted. As the lockdown eases and the project resumes, the Muslim response to the pandemic will be a core element in the final project, as it, too, adapts itself to changing circumstances.
- Arts organisations and venues that would host elements of the project, be it a performance, an exhibition, installation, discussions or dining events.
- Volunteers to collect and record stories of prayer from community figures
- individual stories that are compelling and impactful that give unique insights into prayer and what it means.