Consumers of Western media are constantly exposed to narratives that link terrorism to Islam. The word terrorist precedes or follows nearly every utterance of the word Muslim in conversations in the media. The proliferation and repetition of this phenomenon inevitably colors perceptions of Muslims, and places Muslims in the impossible position of having to defend themselves against the suspicions and misrepresentations that rain down upon them on a daily basis.
My performance is an attempt, perhaps a futile one, at that defense. I will be dressed in white and enclosed behind a pane of glass that is something similar to a white interrogation room. An audio track in which the word terrorist is said over and over will play. The audio clips have been taken from recordings of prominent American politicians and members of the media, as well as from real videos showing Muslims in America being harassed. As the audio plays, each time the word terrorist is said, I will defend myself by writing Muslim on the pane of glass with a black marker. As the audio track gathers in intensity, I will be forced to write faster and faster in an attempt to keep pace with it.
The video camera will be placed on the outside of the interrogation room on the other side of the glass. The audience’s perspective will look into the interrogation room through the glass and see me writing the word Muslim, which they will see in reverse as they hear the audio track play.