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Mustafa Boga

Blowing my cover or something like that

Blowing my cover or something like that (2020, 10'30")

The work is commissioned by visual artist, curator and researcher Abdullah Qureshi for his three-year multidisciplinary project titled: ‘Mythological Migrations: Imagining Queer Muslim Utopias.’ It is part of his on-going doctoral studies at Aalto University, that contextualizes narratives and experiences of LGBTQIA+ Muslim immigrants in Islamic mythologies, history, and contemporary art. Last year he organized the first artistic component of the project, Chapter 1: The Nightclub.

'In Chapter 2: The Darkroom, he is interested in looking at erotic spaces and practices that are traditionally understood as sexually promiscuous, and thus, morally rejected or pushed to the peripheries by the dominant heteronormative society, challenging and re-claiming histories of orientalism, activating and disrupting spaces that are otherwise considered dangerous, and opening up the possibilities of sex and gender expression from queer Muslim and migratory perspective. My film ‘Blowing my cover or something like that’ is part of this chapter.

The video describes a journey. Regardless of the covered body, it looks at invisibility as a political possibility. It is a process of experimentation with hand gestures, dance and body language, exploring femininity and masculinity, and ethnic representatives against nationalism.

The video is an imagining of visibility for a diverse range of identities and desires. It questions if all LGBTQ people, or sexual minorities, should adopt Western models of gay visibility as a universal model regardless of their social, cultural, or national backgrounds? And what happens when you don't look the part?

In the video, I tried to look at this complex issue from my own ethnic, social and sexual background. As a Turkish/Syrian-Arab/British/Queer body, how could I avoid choosing between my sexuality and ethnic identity? Does this assume the mutual exclusivity of being gay and Turkish, coming from the East but living in the West. Is this a crisis of being exposed to more than one culture and perhaps, at the same time, not entirely belonging to either?

To me, the border between visibility and nonconformity has become important in the work. Darkness of the darkroom, a place where we are unable to see, is represented by the figure’s invisibility. He is in darkness where we can’t identify him but he is still able to point. Like in a darkroom, what happens when you hide the body completely in places where the expectation is absolute visibility and where you are expected to behave within social norms to fit in? Isn’t this a major problem in society when someone doesn’t fit in? Aren’t we all afraid of ‘the other’, the one who we cannot identify?


The performance ends with the figure caught in a deadlock of crashes between a global sexual democracy and the lack of ethnic representatives. It leaves us with one last question: In an impossibly modern present time, how can we deconstruct traditional values in terms of acceptance against the patriotic history of learned behaviour? The question takes me back to the Chapter 2: The Darkroom. My attempt here is not only entering those spaces freely, but also creating opportunities to introduce the culture I carry.'


Soundtrack Mix: Subash Thebe (Songs inspired by Mohamed Houssein (Maryam Maryamti), Zeki Müren (Annem), Nils Frahm (All Melody), Nicolas Jaar (Mi Mujer)

Costume: Lilia Yip

Camera: Tomasz Migdal

About the Artist

Mustafa Boğa is an artist based in the UK and Turkey. He completed his masters degree in 2016 from Central Saint Martins in London after studying for an MA in Fine Art. He also obtained another masters degree from Greenwich University in London after studying an MA in Cinematography and Post Production. Before that, he achieved a bachelors degree from Istanbul University after studying at the Faculty of Communication and Journalism. Mustafa has won several awards including The Red Mansion Art Prize and Ashurt Emerging Artist Prize. He got a fellowship at RAW Material Company in Dakar, Senegal. Mustafa has recently worked with international artists such as Otobong Nkanga and Irena Haiduk, has performed in Documenta14 in Kassel, Germany and was selected to perform at The Royal Academy in conjunction with the Ai Weiwei exhibition in 2015.

You can follow more of Mustafa's work at and via his Instagram @bogamust.



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