Lebanese-born artist Khaled Sabsabi has had enough.

He's had enough of the conflict that killed family members in Tripoli and enough of the way he was treated when he first arrived in Auburn in 1977. As the only Muslim in his class he was pinned down while students extinguished cigarettes on his arms.

Artist Khaled Sabsabi in front of his giant mosaic video work Syria.

Photo: Christopher Pearce

And he has had enough of the climate of manufactured fear and dread directed towards his family after September 11, 2001, and the so-called "war on terror".

Sabsabi is among a collective of 16 Islamic artists who have joined together to produce at show called Enough – or "Khalas" in Arabic – at the UNSW Gallery in Paddington.

Work by Hoda Afshar at UNSW Gallery.


The exhibition unapologetically explores the contemporary Australian Muslim experience.

It examines themes such as the politicisation of the Muslim identity, the rhetoric of ultra-nationalism and the militarisation of borders.

A highlight is Sabsabi's giant mosaic video work called Syria, which he created using street scenes from that country.

It uses kaleidoscopic images and incorporates personal recordings from Damascus, made over nine years from 2002 to 2011, as the Syrian catastrophe was beginning to unfold.

Artist Hoda Afshar says "Muslim women have been subjected to centuries of manipulation of their image – so it's time we took control".

Photo: Rohan Thomson

He plays on the word kaleidoscope, to show the constantly changing pattern or sequence of elements in mirrors as well as in Syria itself. For Sabsabi, even travelling to Syria was hard; he had to reconcile the fact that members of his family had been kidnapped and killed before he moved to Australia.

"This is a deeply personal story but I wanted to show the beauty in everyday life there – the street scenes where there is peace, in a region that has projected hostility and uncertainty for nearly a century and where violence has become the unfortunate condition of the day," he says.

Artist Hoda Afshar got sick of images of Australian Islamic women so created her own.

Also included is the work of Tehran-born artist Hoda Afshar, who says she has had enough of the stereotypes presented of Muslim woman post 9/11. In her works, instead of the "oppressed, tradition-bound, inferior Muslim woman" she shows women who "[beneath the veil] are secretly 'just like me' – fashion loving, rebellious, and sexually free".

"I found this expectation existed of me as an Iranian woman – that I was suppressed," she says. "So as an artist I wanted to use my gender and religion to disrupt that image of me using a pop-art/Andy Warhol style to challenge the cliches around my Islamic identity. Muslim women have been subjected to centuries of manipulation of their image – so it's time we took control of it."

The word khalas has myriad definitions, including "stop" "finish", "that's all", "it's fine" and '"enough".

"We have also decided we are enough," Afshar says.

Enough or Khalas, UNSW Gallery until July 14.

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