She looks like a Rolling Stone, digs the Smiths, and wishes she had a penis so she could ‘fuck you and then steal your job’. I think she’s quite cool, but – believe it or not – there are others who’d rather see her dead. Some of Sarah’s portraits, most notably those of her smoking like a badass in a white hijab, have been doing the rounds on the Internet for quite some time. Oftentimes they are taken out of context, like Rumi poems gone wrong in a bookstore calendar; and, being the beast of urgency it is loved and loathed for, social media hasn’t given much space for a bit of much-needed background information. This, in addition to the artist’s withdrawn nature and hesitancy to engage with her online audiences, is perhaps why she’s been branded a blasphemer, heretic, and overall no-do-gooder (is that even a term?). Some might be surprised to discover that, contrary to the impression some of her pieces may give, Sarah has never intended to take a jab at religion, and that there are so many other dimensions of her work and outlook – her near-militant feminism and hybrid Iranian-English identity, for example – that are often overshadowed by holier-than-thou discourse.

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