Abdu Ali

Abdu Ali

He // Him // His, They // Them // Theirs

[ID: A close-up of a person’s face wearing black shades and a golden headdress with a golden halo. They have medium-brown skin and a neatly trimmed beard. Their face is partly obscured by their outstretched hands.]

Portrait photo by Amira Green.

Musician and Multidisciplinary Artist
Baltimore, MD
2023 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by the Mellon Foundation.

Abdu Ali is a Baltimore-based musician, writer, and multidisciplinary artist who works in sound, collaboration, video, and performance. Ali’s work often interrogates ideas of race, gender, and sexuality that manifests as poetic inquiries of identity, promoting liberation from oppressive ideologies and encouraging self-marginalized peoples to be self-determined. Their work also centers promoting authentic Black queer legacies and narratives as these histories are often subjected to distortion and erasure.

Described as a cosmic, punk, and soulful tempest on stage, Ali has performed their energetic and visceral shows at MoMa PS1, the Carnegie Museum of Art, and The Kennedy Center. Their work has been highlighted by The New York Times, The Fader, Elephant Magazine, and Tracks on Arte TV. In 2019, Ali founded as they lay, a curatorial platform that claims space for critical dialogue, collaboration, and radical envisioning for Black creative futures. They have held residencies at Red Bull Music and Pioneer Works and in 2022 were a visiting artist at the Brown Arts Institute at Brown University. Ali was also a recipient of the 2018 Ruby Artist Grant.

  • Artwork by Abdu Ali
    Abdu Ali and their collaborator Markele Cullins performing at the seventh Athens Biennale. Photo by Emilios Haralambous.
    [ID: A performer stands behind a microphone stand covered in vines. They wear a golden headdress and long red garment made of a shimmering material. Surrounding the performer is a semicircle of dirt, flowers, and candles on the floor. Behind the performer is a second person standing by a table covered in photographs of people.]
Artwork by Abdu Ali