Emmi Kurowski (Brigitte Mira), a widow in her sixties, walks into a bar to take shelter from the rain. She is met with hostile stares by a mixed group of Moroccan immigrants and Germans. As a joke, one of his friends challenges Ali (El Hedi ben Salem m'Barek Mohammed Mustafa), a young strapping Berber man, to ask her for a dance. He agrees, and thus begins a romance across the taboo lines of race and age.
The women she draws, flanked by a mix of traditional South Asian motifs and totems of youthful American culture, are not hiding their stubble. They sit, stand and kneel in poses that do anything but hide their hair, as they smoke cavalierly behind a box of 'mithai' or cruise across a roller rink. More often than not, her female subjects are seen legs and arms outstretched, faces calm, cool and collected amid a backdrop of saturated purples, greens and oranges.
If I asked you to define yourself, would you know how to respond? We like to think we are all complex individuals who can’t be reduced to descriptors, but often there are moments when we are forced to identify with something – to label ourselves Somali, black, queer, working class, Muslim or gender nonconforming. Everything on that list applies to me. It may be that none of them apply to you, but does that matter?
To all the American daughters of South Asian immigrants: Have you ever felt that you just can’t be a Good Girl? Your parents and South Asian community have likely tried drilling in you that Good Girls follow the path of academic excellence, a well-paying job (doctor, lawyer, or engineer), marriage to a well-paid Desi man (preferably a doctor), and then a happy house with kids. Obedience to parents, no dating (at least not while a student), and virginity until marriage are absolutes.
“Yo existo. I exist,” asserts Julio Salgado’s self-portrait drawn with wings that give him identity. Salgado was eleven years old when he crossed the border from Mexico to the United States where he remains an undocumented resident. Risking arrest and deportation if detected, Julio makes art about his experiences of being a queer and undocumented person of colour.