Interview with Vice about the project
Extrait of an interview with Estela magazine about the project
Our Society is stirring. It seems as if we are waking from a long and tortuous slumber. We, of the Information age see our dreams and aspirations writ large and projected out into the world. Our demons as well. How do we keep from falling back into that fathomless sleep and ignorance? How do we nature our blossoming dream of unity and equality? Nastia Cloutier-Ignatiev answers in only a way an artist can.
We know that this project is your "reaction to Trump's travel ban and the Quebec mosque shooting," please tell us about the moment you decided to start?Before going to bed, I usually look at the news because it is one of the only moments of the day when I have time. I decided to start this project the night I read for the first time and together about Trump's travel ban and the Quebec Mosque Shooting. I was angry and felt powerless. I knew I would not be able to go to sleep because that situation was bothering me. So I decided to grab my book where I always sketch, write how I felt about it and came up with my project. This is what I came up with: "In reaction to recent President Trump Travel Ban and the deadly mosque shooting in Quebec City, I decided to photograph Muslim women like I would photograph anybody else. I don't believe that Muslims should be treated or seen differently because of the prejudices society has labeled them with. I see them as equal like I see anybody else from any culture and religion. It is too easy to generalize about a culture we don't know. With this series of images, my goal is to break the premade ideas about Muslims and look at them as humans instead of individuals we are told to fear. "
How long have you been working on this?I started the project the night of the shooting, The 29th of January. I've been working on this projects for three months now. I wanted to make something quick, so I decided to divide the project into two parts. The first part took place in the week following the 29th. I decided to photograph Muslim women like I would photograph anybody else to demonstrate that the culture of an individual does that make them different. In others words, it is not because someone is not like you that they should be treated differently. The second part of the project took part in February. I decided to photograph Muslim with individuals from many other cultures and backgrounds. My goal with the second part is to show the beauty of diversity and that people from different background exist together.
Do you know any Muslims? How did you come to learn about Islam and its people?As a child I use to spend a lot of time with my neighbor, we practically grew up together, and she was an Indian Muslim. I did not understand religion as a kid but was fascinated by the beautiful outfits her mom would let us wear once in a while. I started to figure out that she was from a different culture than me when I brought her fresh strawberries during Ramadan, I felt terribly sorry when her mother explained to me why she could not eat them right now. My opinion about her did not change; I just started to understand that other individuals had different religions and cultures and that it not made them not my friends or people I should fear. Doing my project also made me learned about Islam, and it's people. I love discovering about individuals and their cultures.
What were some of the reactions you received when telling people about this project? The reactions that are most important to me are the ones that came from the Muslim Community. They said thank you.
Has this project affected your view of Muslims in any way?I started this project because I did not have any other way of seeing Muslims than I see anybody else. After this projects, I still see this community as equal to myself. However, I hope this will change the view of others on Muslims if they don't see them as the same as everyone else.
What is your end goal for this project?My first goal is to show to everyone is equal and that diversity in looks, cultures, and religions is what makes us beautiful and human. My goal is also to create images that are not only pretty, but that makes a point.
What would you tell Trump and his legion of demons and monsters? I wouldn't say anything. It would be a terrible waste of time and energy for someone who does not deserve any. I rather put that time and energy in doing things like this project. I know we can't change him or turn his followers in recognizing how wrong he is. But for now, I think it's important to spread positivity and love.