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Impressions Gallery

exhibitions: past

You Get Me?

Mahtab Hussain

12th Jan - 24th Mar 2018

Mahtab Hussain’s photographs explore the critical question of identity among young working-class British Asian men and boys. This is the first time that this acclaimed exhibition from Autograph ABP has been seen outside London.

Hussain’s starting point for the project was the question, ‘what does it mean to be a British Muslim male today?’ Over a nine-year period, he photographed in Birmingham – where he grew up – stopping individuals in the street and starting conversations as he took their portrait. He later expanded the project to London and Nottingham.

The men depicted in his portraits identify as Muslim, and expressed they felt ridiculed by the constant flow of negative media representation of their lives. The title of the exhibition is a phrase that Hussain repeatedly heard in his conversations with the young men. ‘You get me?’ is an urban street expression that can sometimes be used in an aggressive way, but also expresses vulnerability and uncertainty: Do you understand me? Do you know where I’m coming from?

Presented with quotes in the voices of the young men themselves, each of the 24 large-scale portraits in the exhibition tells a unique story of boyhood and manhood. Together, they present a collective picture on how these young men negotiate masculinity, self-esteem, social identity and religion in a multi-cultural society.

Mahtab Hussain said, ‘These young men face unemployment, discrimination, and racism. Yet, they identify with Britain and have a strong sense of Britishness. I didn’t want to make portraits that made you feel sorry for these young men. I wanted to show that despite the pressures, these men have still found a way to hold themselves up as proud and dignified people, albeit with complex and often conflicting identities’.

You Get Me?
 is curated by Mark Sealy at Autograph ABP. Supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

Mahtab Hussain uses photography to investigate the dynamic relationship between identity, heritage and displacement. Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1981, Hussain began his series You Get Me? in 2008. Hussain’s work has received wide recognition, including commissions by Ikon Gallery (Birmingham), Multistory (West Bromwich) and New Art Exchange (Nottingham). His photography has been shown internationally, and reviewed in publications such as the Guardian, the Telegraph and The Huffington Post. His work is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (USA). Books featuring Hussain’s work include the monographs The Quiet Town of Tipton (Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2015) The Commonality of Strangers (New Art Exchange, 2015), and You Get Me? (MACK, 2017).


Exhibition resources

Click here to download an information sheet about the exhibition (pdf 338kb)
Click here to download an exhibition guide (pdf 3.1mb)
Click here to download a gallery trail (pdf

What the papers say

Telegraph and Argus
Bradford Life
Radio Leeds

Green chalk striped suit, 2017

Green chalk striped suit, 2017

Mahtab Hussain

Click on thumbnail below to enlarge

Green chalk striped suit, 2017 Red t-shirt, baseball jacket, car Young boy in pink and grey beanie Shemagh, beard and bling Eyebrow tracks, white vest and baseball cap Young boy, white boxing gloves Boy with BMW toy car Teenager, swing and last day at school