Cockroaches, meditation and the cycle of life – the voice of a poetic activist

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  • Interview Tazeen Global Dialogue
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Young Feminists

My interview partner, Tazeen Qayyum was the first artist in residence of the Salam Orient festival in co-operation with philomena+. Tazeen enjoyed her education as a visual artist in Lahore, Pakistan at the National College of Arts. She is one of the pioneers transforming traditional miniature painting into a contemporary form. Some years ago, Tazeen moved with her family to Canada. As an artist, she explores her own identity as a brown woman living in the West. Tazeen has been described as a poetic activist, reflecting the sociopolitical context and speaking through her art.

Cockroaches, meditation and the cycle of life play a special role in her art and performative drawings. Tazeen talks about the meaning behind her symbolic art works and how questions like belonging and displacement keep influencing her. Tazeen also shares her personal story, how she found her way into arts. She reflects on the challenges for women in the global arts scene and especially, how she experiences the pressure on women in the West.

In the interview, Tazeen talks openly about how the pandemic influences her personal life and her work. Here in Vienna, she co-created a music drawing performance together with the poet and musician Marwan Abado. For their improvisation, they chose the word Ihsaas – meaning realization, perception or emotion in English – which stands for our feelings during these troubling times of the pandemic. You will hear live recordings from the session and extracts from Tazeen’s favorite sufi singer Abida Parveen.


This show is produced by Katja Teuchmann

Language: English



Tazeen Qayyum


Tazeen Qayyum and Marwan Abado: Performance at the Salam Orient festival 2020

Salam Orient Festival


Music: Life recordings from Marwan Abado: Musician, singer, composer, poet; Single Maula-E-Kull 2016 from Abida Parveen: Sufi singer


Fotocredit: Faisal Anwar

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