Habib Yazdi, Sara Aghajanian, and Abbas Rattani have a shared passion for their cultures and heritages. The three friends, all the children of immigrants, also share a love of storytelling. “When we all ended up in New York City at the same time, it only seemed natural that we would collaborate,” Aghajanian says.
Their collaboration took the form of Somewhere in America #MIPSTERZ, a video they released in 2013 that explores what it means to be an American Muslim woman. Originally set to the music of rapper Jay-Z, it features stylish young Muslim women of diverse backgrounds reveling in an urban landscape on skateboards, in high heels, and in hijabs. The video went viral, sparking widespread discussion and debate.
Yazdi says he was inspired to make the video by the lack of representation of the types of strong Muslim women he knew. “I was concerned that so little was being produced by and about our generation of American Muslims,” adds Rattani, who, in 2012, coined the term Mipsterz (or #MIPSTERZ) to refer to young Muslims around the world who have evolving views on the intersections of religion, community, politics, culture, and Muslim identities.
Somewhere in America #MIPSTERZ is part of the exhibition Contemporary Muslim Fashions, on view at the de Young through January 6, 2019. Eager to learn more about the project and its origins, Laura Camerlengo, associate curator of costume and textiles arts at the Museums and co-curator of the exhibition, posed a series of questions to Yazdi, Aghajanian, and Rattani about their viral video and what it means (and doesn’t mean) to be a #MIPSTER.