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Google Docs
Hanna Noor Mahomed
Artwork 2022
Installation photograph of the Common exhibition. Hanna Noor Mahomed’s ‘Google Docs’, an acrylic and wood sculpture of the Google Docs logo, is hung on a white wall.
Artwork: Hanna Noor Mahomed, Google Docs (2022). Acrylic on MDF wood. 80 x 60 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Khanya Mashabela.
Artist Hanna Noor Mahomed Title Google Docs Date 2022 Materials Acrylic on MDF wood Dimensions 80 x 60 cm Credit Courtesy of the artist and Khanya Mashabela

Reimagined as a sculptural object, the ubiquitous Google Docs logo becomes a metonym for community. Made during the global pandemic, Noor Mahomed was drawn to those symbols that came to represent collaborative production, social engagement and informal exchange. Google’s blue rectangle – a stylised facsimile of a printed page with bent corner – offers itself as icon, representing a digital plane on which real-time, written interactions take place. Like a word repeated over and over, the icon seen again and again fails to read as the page it once represented, and instead gestures to a series of transient, geographically unlocated communities, their rituals and word-processing practices.

Storytelling is central to Hanna Noor Mahomed’s practice. Her narratives, however, do not lend themselves to legibility – the artist resisting pictorial clarity in favour of productive ambiguity. That her paintings and drawings are rooted in abstraction is, she suggests, an invitation to more expansive complexity. Noor Mahomed works against the aesthetic assumptions and demands, and the expected foregrounding of identity politics, that so many minority artists are freighted with. How might one centre one’s religious and cultural experience without reaffirming conceptions of otherness and difference? In answer, she composes stories gleaned from personal, collective, speculative and historical accounts, gesturing to those narratives that go unheard and untold. Quoting a range of religious motifs, political symbols, traditionally Western tropes, and essentialist images, Noor Mahomed considers how these accumulated signifiers are disrupted by new and unfamiliar contexts. The resulting hybrid compositions, with their layers, quotes and fractal forms, offer alternative imaginings of the past, present and future.