Anak Dara: Azzah Sultan

Azzah Sultan is a Malaysian-born artist based in New York. “Anak Dara” is a special exhibition showcasing Sultan’s heritage and culture as a Malaysian Muslim woman."
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Zoom Recording by Amelia Natasha

“Art is not what you see but what you make others see” 
— Edgar Degas 

This quote was ringing in mind as we spoke to rising multi-disciplinary visual artist, Azzah Sultan as we unpick her mind and understand the story behind her recent body of work, “Anak Dara”. Sultan’s work centers around identity and staying true to her Malaysian Muslim roots. Taking control of her narrative, Sultan shares her discoveries and stories through challenging social norms, pushing boundaries, and nostalgic installations.

Photo Courtesy of Azzah Sultan

From talks about identity to challenging societal norms and manoeuvring around the western art world which has a predominantly Eurocentric lens, we had the privilege to gain some insights and understanding of who Sultan is. We feel very inspired after and can’t wait for you to be inspired too!

For a full explanation listen to our interview with her as she explains her thought process and experiences as a young Muslim artist based in America. You can follow her works and progression at @sitisultan on Instagram.

Anak Dara (MFA SHOW) by Azzah Sultan
Anak Dara (MFA SHOW) by Azzah Sultan

“Growing up in Malaysia, our culture and customs are significant areas of familial focus. It is important to not lose touch of who we are; the rite of passage to transfer knowledge is traditionally passed from one generation to next. “Anak Dara” is a Malay term that translates to ‘a young and unmarried child’. It is a term of endearment my mother often uses. Here “Anak Dara” is an ode to the diaspora leaving home and the journey to recover what was lost through materiality, performance, and the power of my mother’s voice.”

Artworks included in the show:
Memasak, Melipat, Membalut, Menyentuh and Menghidu

Azzah Sultan Work Description From Her Website

Previous work –

“Anak Mami” is an exploration of my cultural identity, looking at my Malaysian background and how it relates to my Malay, Indian and Pakistani bloodline. The word Mamak is a term referring to the Indian Muslims who migrated from mostly South India to Malaysia. The first port of entry was Penang, mostly around the twelfth to the eighteenth century. They settled down in different businesses but mainly in the food industry. Indian Muslims played a fundamental role in Malaysia from global trade, introducing Islam and building mosques. The garments incorporated in this work are pieces borrowed from my mother and father, with Indian and Malay jewellery borrowed from my mother. These mixing of patterns bring light to my relationship with the cultures I grew up with. Malaysia is a diverse community of Malays, Indians, and Chinese, the intersectionality of these races is what makes up the community but coming from a mixed background you are often categorized as one or the other. Anak Mami is a project that brings light to my mixed background, the pivotal influences of Mamaks in Malaysian society, and is a platform to represent women who share the same skin tone and features as mine.”

Azzah Sultan Work Description From Her Website

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