Mussulman, 2006/18 Film
In 2003, Patel’s practice began with photographic self-portraiture, including a performative element. Mussulman continued his interested in using his own body as a site for identity interrogation. Focusing on pigments from the Indian rituals and ceremonies he has grown up with in his British Indian household in Bolton, UK, these pigments have been strong signifiers of Indian identity, and include henna paste (Mehndi), more commonly used to decorate the hands and feet of an Indian bride to be. The Mehndi works show the end result of self imposed rituals in which the artist takes up to six hours to decorate his own body with these materials. He is interested in what it means to mark his own skin with these pigments and the metaphor of coating himself with a second skin- one which stains the surface for up to three weeks but then needs to be repeatedly reapplied and redefined.
In 2018, Patel collaborated with composer Amy May to create a sound track for the originally silent work. For this, May has sampled Patel’s mother singing song that was played at her own wedding mehndi ceremony four decades earlier.
Digital Film with stereo sound—
11 Minutes 20 Seconds—
Direction and performance