Pin It
CREDIT Nasreen Sheikh Jamal Al Lail
Photography Nasreen Sheikh Jamal Al Lail

The feminist zine redefining the arts for women of colour

We quiz Sofia Niazi and Rose Nordin on OOMK – the flourishing all-female collective tackling sexism and spirituality

OOMK (One of My Kind) is a biannual zine which thrives within DIY publishing, creating a zine which promotes creativity, spirituality and activism amongst women of colour. Since its launch in 2013, founders Sofia Niazi, Rose Nordin and Sabba Khan have become a flourishing all-female collective,  contributing to the current rise of zine publishing and DIY culture combatting sexism and changing the feminist discourse. With the upcoming release of issue four, we spoke with two quarters of OOMK – Sofia Niazi and Rose Nordin – about diversity, spirituality, and the possibility of OOMK – the band.

How did you get involved with OOMK, and what was the concept behind it?

Sofia Niazi: I got involved with OOMK when Sabba Khan and I met Rose at zine fair. We used to make a lot of zines together, and Rose said she wanted to collaborate on a project and it just went from there. Overall the concept was inspired by the lack of relevant, interesting material about the kinds of issues we were interested in, and this drove us to create OOMK. Heiba joined us after meeting at the launch of issue 1, and she ended up being our 'trainee' at South Kilburn Studios where we're based.

“It's frustrating to see our religion being discussed so widely and narrowly by people who have little to no expertise about the religion of Islam” – Sofia Niazi

OOMK really focuses on activism and spirituality within women. Why are these aspects so important?

Sofia Niazi: We want OOMK to be a space where it's normal to discuss traditional and faith based approaches to life, and to be critical of the assumption that 'secular' is some sort of neutral ground. We want to be able to talk about religion as a lived, non-problematic experience, as opposed to the way it's normally brought up in mainstream media. It's frustrating to see our religion being discussed so widely and narrowly by people who have little to no expertise about the religion of Islam. Being vocal about injustices and highlighting grassroots movements which addresses them is important to us because it's the only way we can see change coming about.

There has been a significant rise in zine publishing, DIY culture and its link to feminism recently. How do you feels zines are publicly changing the feminist discourse for the better?

Sofia Niazi: It's great to see that there are so many discussions about feminism happening outside of academic circles, and that zines are providing a fertile ground to be both nurturing and critical spaces to further feminist discourse.We have co-organised DIY culture fairs, and have hosted several smaller zine fairs and the proliferation of feminist zines has been something we’ve seen progress first hand.  

Rose Nordin: I would say that zines are helping to nurture and enable physical feminist communities to exist in the internet age. It goes hand in hand, as the internet in turn is supporting zine communities and feminist discourse to grow even more. Zine culture really is a tool for subculture and discussion, and continues to create a safe and logical space for feminist discourse to take place.

Women of colour are usually underrepresented, and when they are – particularly Muslim women – they're sometimes misrepresented. Do you feel you have a responsibility to represent women in a way which is honest and challenges views perpetrated by mainstream media?

Rose Nordin: I feel like it’s our responsibility to be honest spirituality, creatively and politically, and this feels like a duty. Mainstream media’s representation of women lacks any multiplicity - it's a bore and it's not for us. We feel like we had to make a space away from that noise and we have our own missions.

What have been some significant highlights since OOMK’s launch in 2013?

Rose Nordin: We've had many great moments, from our Vision Of The Future Exhibition, to our DIY Culture Festival, and hopefully our Online/Offline party will be another!

Where do you see OOMK in 10 years?

Sofia Niazi: Hopefully we'll still be making OOMK, and progress to running a successful design studio. Who knows, we might even start a band! God willing, we will continue to prosper and have great times.

OOMK's Online/Offline party will take place at South Kilburn Studios on 2 May

Read our larger feature on POC artists here