© 2016 by Sobia Ahmad

Remove and Dissolve

Photos by Susannah Stevens

Remove and Dissolve


Engraved acrylic, ink, water, cloth

33 pieces, 3.5x5 in. each (Standard passport size)

Engravings are a poem that was created using text directly from the Supreme Court decision on President Trump's Travel Ban. 

In June 2018, the Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s Executive Order, which bans travel to the U.S. from several predominantly Muslim countries. While reading the official Case Syllabus and Opinion of the Court, I was struck by the violent and dehumanizing language used to describe those who are not U.S. citizens. When read with historical, social, and political contexts of this country in mind, these phrases, though taken directly from the Court’s decision on the travel ban, are not specific to a certain population. The word “alien” has been used in law to describe foreigners since the 1700s and the U.S. has a longstanding history of discriminatory and exclusionary policies.


Through this work, I ask: Who bears the weight of and who bears witness to injustice? “Remove and Dissolve” not only refers to the current administration’s treatment of immigrants and refugees, but also invites the viewers to recognize their role in social change. They are asked to remove and dissolve these words in water - history does not belong to a people; it belongs to us all. Overtime, the ink may dissolve, but it can never be fully removed. The words may become ghostly, but they will remain engraved. Similarly, Supreme Court rulings can be overturned, but the impact of such historical events is long lasting.



Remove, dissolve, and replace the acrylic panels.

Traverse (The Problem of Aliens)


Video excerpt with sound (Full video RT 5:18)