Noorafshan Mirza

Istanbul, Turkey

Noorafshan Mirza’s artistic practice is founded on collaboration and working collectively.

As an artist of biracial heritage. I have been on a long journey of decolonizing myself, my education, my body and my intimate relationships. These days I self identity as a white coded brown woman. In the words of Tamela J. Gordon “we can’t all be black feminists. It’s something you’re born into, it isn’t acquired. However we can all and should adopt a black feminist agenda. When black women win, mankind wins.” My alignment with this statement comes from an ongoing engagement with intersectional feminism. As a non black women of colour I grew up in a completely white rural society, exposed to second wave (white) British feminism only as an art student (London) in the early 90’s. Which I naturally felt didn’t speak to any of my lived experiences growing up, of being racialised and experiencing institutional structural racism. As a young person I was politicised both socially and musically, through the subcultures of punk and hip hop. To then ending up as an art student in white (art) school, where I was re-introduced to the practices of forced assimilation and “passing”. I did not have access to any black or brown women’s voices, in any part of my education. So now as a women in my sage/wisdom years I am returning to a place I was as an angry “rebellious teenager”, self educating myself and undoing the unconscious bias of white (supremacy) colonial power.

Myself and my long term collaborator the artist Brad Butler have currently finished our first fiction feature film Ruptures (2019), accompanied by an exhibition project The Scar (2018) on state enforced disappearance. Between 2008 and 2016 our art practice was framed as a fictional institution. This ‘Museum of non Participation” sought to confront (non) participation as a neoliberal condition and a threshold – between forms of resistance and forces of oppression. Prior to 2008 works by myself and Brad included structural films and expanded cinema including Non Places (1999), Where a straight line meets a curve (2003), and the Space Between (2005). 

From 1998-2018 myself and Brad were co-directors of the artist film platform through which we ran workshops, production of artists film & video and curated film screenings. Projects included The Free Cinema School and Implicated Theatre commissioned by the Serpentine Gallery, Center for Possible Studies, Experimenta Indian film festival in Mumbai, the Cinema of Prayoga at the Tate Modern, the summer school. In 2018 was handed to a younger generation who are running a Blk, PoC artists workers co-operative : not/nowhere.

Noor & Brad were nominated for the Jarman Award in 2012, The Artes Mundi Award 2015, and the Paul Hamlyn Award for visual artists 2015. Their works have been commissioned by Artangel, Hayward gallery, The Sydney Biennale, Film London, Film and Video Umbrella, the Serpentine gallery, and The Walker Art Centre.