Performance artist Anida Yoeu Ali, a first generation Muslim Khmer American (born in Cambodia and raised in Chicago), performed as “The Buddhist Bug” as part of Tacoma Arts Month.
“I have never been able to quietly create works inside a studio space,” said performance artist Anida Yoeu Ali. “That is a luxury I have never had. Instead my works are performances taken into the streets and rice fields, classrooms, and hawker stands—energetic sites where everyday people and daily life occur.”
As the Bug, Ali playfully wears a sinuous, caterpillar-like garment; the color references the robes of Buddhist monks while following the strict modest attire of orthodox Muslim women. It is an exploration of diasporic identities particularly inspired by her fascination with Buddhism as a Cham-Muslim American.
In 2009 Ali began the Buddhist Bug project conceptually in the United States, realizing it fully in Cambodia from 2011-2015 during her residency there. She has taken it around the world to Singapore, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Lyon, Dakar, Lithuania, and more. “It makes perfect sense for the work to complete its journey [here in the US,]” Ali said, “where religious tolerance and the complication of hybrid identities are needed now more than ever.”
An exhibit of Ali’s work (www.anidaali.com) will be at Feast Arts Center through November 11.