Navine G Khan-Dossos works with her own form of geometric abstraction that merges the traditional aniconism of Islamic art with symbols of our networked world. The Messenger and the Message comprises two panel paintings, each the reverse of the other, their format based on the dimensions of large flat screen televisions and haunted by the black flag of Islamic State. The first layer is based on a satellite diagram- a metaphor for the geolocation of the site of the execution of James Foley, researched by Bellingcat. The second layer is the Twitter symbol, often used for communication by ISIS fighters. The third layer is based on an Islamic architectural form which symbolises for the artist sound and silence in architecture, the echo chamber. The fourth layer is made up of the crossed swords from the logo of Operation Inherent Resolve, the combined task force fighting in Syria. The final layer is the branding for KIK, a social messaging platform that was used by ISIS fighters and followers as a secure place to conduct private conversations and recruitment.
Khan-Dossos has sought an alternative visual language to respond the multiplicity of media, networks and propaganda which combine to inform our perception of contemporary warfare. Her work suggests that we must not rely upon and reproduce the figurative language of television, online media and the endlessly circulating images which shape our shared construction of reality. Rather, she is interested in the discovery of a new iconography which better reflects the patterns and connections that underlie these images and their related experiences. This is an opportunity to acquire a work that reflects on emergent and crucial themes within contemporary conflict, which are barely touched upon within IWM's art collection at present, by a fascinating artist at a point at which her career is flourishing.