Malikah: Building Power and Safety for Our Communities
Photograph by Zynab Cewalam
Malikah: Building Power and Safety for Our Communities aims to capture the love, strength, and joy within our community as we collectively use self-defense and healing as a tool to build power and safety for all women. Malikah was founded by Astoria native Rana Abdelhamid, to build community and share resources with people impacted by hate and gender-based violence in a post-9/11 New York City. This series highlights the beauty and importance of our individual and collective journeys as we work towards a more just world.
The images were taken in August of 2021, during a public self-defense workshop in Astoria Park organized by Malikah and facilitated by Rana Abdelhamid. In the workshop, participants were introduced to techniques in physical de-escalation, bystander intervention, and verbal de-escalation. Documented by photographer Zynab Cewalam, the workshop was open to all women and gender-expansive people, and intentionally centered the experiences of Black, Indigenous, and people of color.
Malikah: Building Power and Safety for Our Communities was produced in partnership with Photoville and the Queens Museum’s Year of Uncertainty.
Malikah: Building power and Safety for Our Communities was produced in partnership with Photoville and the Queens Museum’s Year of Uncertainty, a program that aims to strengthen connection among the museum, its communities, and constituents, exploring the new ways institutions can support individuals and the public navigating a world that is always and increasingly shifting.
About The Artist
The images in this series were captured by Zynab Cewalam, an Egyptian-American fine art film photographer based in New York City. Her work focuses on portrait-style photography in the most honest way. She is inspired by the softer, empathetic side of humans contrasted with her love for the alluring side of fashion. Cewalam started her career wandering into the fashion world, where she craved more creative direction behind the scenes. Her love for film photography began in the lab room, where she stood alone with her images, developing and printing her work as she envisioned them. She works with Film By Two, which was created to venture into the world of storytelling through different mediums: film photography, digital photography, and filmmaking. Dedicated to creating a world beyond reality while maintaining a sense of realism, Film By Two believes that every story is worth capturing to be remembered.
About The Organization
Malikah is a global collective of women and nonbinary people committed to building safety and power for ourselves and our communities. Over 10 years, we have trained tens of thousands of people in over 30 cities across the globe in self-defense, economic empowerment, healing, justice, and organizing.
With every self defense technique, we deconstruct the notion that our bodies are not our own. With every movement, we begin a healing process with our bodies—one where we finally have full control over our security and space. We affirm the diversity of our community and recognize that we are all on unique journeys. For some women and gender marginalized people, self-defense may be a tool for healing and connection with our source of power and body. For others, we are motivated to be trained in self-defense because it will ultimately be a tool for self-preservation. Whatever the case may be, Malikah’s spaces are meant to be affirming for every part of your experience.
The Queens Museum is dedicated to presenting the highest quality visual arts and educational programming for people in the New York metropolitan area, and particularly for the residents of Queens—a uniquely diverse, ethnic, cultural, and international community. We fulfill this mission through exhibitions, public programs, and educational experiences that promote the appreciation and enjoyment of art, support the creative efforts of artists, and engage with the contemporary urban life of nearby populations.