You might have come across Maria Qamar’s celebrated Instagram feed @Hatecopy during your daily scroll. Her pop-art style and sharp sense of humour that playfully pokes fun at South Asian stereotypes has earned her over 160k followers. Born in Pakistan and raised in Mississauga, Qamar’s work deals with interactions between the South Asian diaspora, feminism, romance, revenge, drama, tradition and confronting the patriarchy. She has shown her work in galleries internationally, published a book Trust No Aunty and can count Mindy Kaling among her many fans. On May 25, as part of AGO All Hours, she’ll take the stage in Walker Court at 4 pm to give us her take on art, community and satire.
In anticipation of her talk this weekend, we spoke with her to find out more about her thoughts about being an artist on Instagram, and how she uses humour in her art.
AGO: Your Instagram feed @Hatecopy has garnered you wide acclaim. As an artist, what do you think Instagram does best?
Qamar: Instagram is a platform that allows many people to share their work with the world. For me, it’s a way to create things that aren’t edited or need to be approved by a team of people before they see the light of day. Instagram is my personal gallery – to feature whatever I want.
AGO: Your celebrated book Trust No Aunty was a musing on unsolicited advice, illustrated with drawings. What inspired the book’s unique format?
Qamar: I worked with my good friend and art director Richard Dao for the execution of this book. We figured that the best way to communicate our culture is to show the diversity within it. The book is a mishmash of different concepts and styles – you have recipes, games, trivia and much more. The idea was to create a quick and engaging book that’s just as natural to scroll through as an Instagram feed.
AGO: Where do you think humour fits in shaping cross-cultural understanding?
Qamar: I use humour in my work to confront the trauma and pain of forced assimilation. It was only after my work began to circulate around the world that I realized I wasn’t the only one.
A member of the South Asian diaspora, I come from a place where people are forced to assimilate into stereotypes of what a “woman” should “be” and should “do”. Here (in Toronto), we’re forced to reject our culture or let it become absorbed by capitalism for the sake of mainstream validation. There are a lot of things in place that, in a way, condition young people to believe that this is how it’s always been, when in fact, it is simply the product of patriarchy.
So how do we teach ourselves and others to reject patriarchy and push towards equality? I confront this through my work and tackle conditioned logic by using an approach that feels familiar to me – humour.
Don’t miss Maria Qamar’s (@Hatecopy) talk on May 25 at 4 pm in Walker Court. Admission to AGO All Hours is free for visitors 25 and under, AGO Annual Pass holders and AGO Members, and $25 for single ticket purchasers, with in-and-out privileges throughout the duration of the event (10:30 am to 1 am).
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