south asian weddings

why south asian weddings are the best! so much love, loud music, nonstop dancing, and good food at mehndis. a lot of the songs and colorful rituals come from the beautiful province of punjab, the land of five rivers, which extends beyond and across the pakistan-india border and for centuries has been the center of music, literature, art, and sufism. nothing sets the tone of a wedding better than the double-headed dhol or noisy drums that signal the arrival of the groom’s family.

meetings with roc friends

ran into missy by chance this morning as she was picking up coffees for herself and her husband at the village bakery. another serendipitous meeting in roc, and then a vibrant discussion with my fam (rajesh and muna) about activism and palestine. got interrupted by a white lady sitting nearby who tried to police our convo and left in a huff. white fragility and tears are the flip side of white privilege, trust me. should write more about this.

in rochester for a wedding

in rochester for a wedding and oh, how beautiful it is here. not as hot as on long island, with gorgeous blue skies and greenery so abundant it takes one’s breath away. a walk in cobbs hill park, dinner at sinbad’s, and best of all randomly running into our friend johannes as he was taking a turn on his bike – what are the chances, right? only in roc.

in new york city

a recap of moments: walk by battery park at night with my daughter and looking at nyc thru her eyes, listening to françoise hardy again and feeling this profound emotional tug, remembering donald sutherland in ‘ordinary people’ and the extraordinary brilliance with which he talked about sculpture in one of his interviews, attending a gaza fundraiser organized by global feminists for palestine at jaishri’s studio in brooklyn (yes, that’s suheir hammad in the black veil) and being in community with other artists and writers, and finally dinner at tacombi’s with the lovely zeenat – it means everything to me to spend time with my friends’ kids and know that they are thriving.

talk & screening at new orleans museum of art

last post about kolaj fest new orleans: wanted to say something about my presentation and the screening of ‘return to sender: women of color in colonial postcards & the politics of representation.’

i started with a 20 min talk in which i expanded on some of the themes that are discussed in the film: the male gaze, the colonial lens, orientalism and the work of edward said, epistemicide and the work of ramon grosfoguel, photography as a tool of colonial surveys and expansion, white feminism, and of course palestine. i wasn’t sure of the reaction as my work digs deep into uncomfortable histories and racist systems, but i couldn’t have hoped for a better response. that many of the people in the audience were artists and scholars helped spark a vibrant discussion, but what meant most to me was what i heard from women, many of them women of color. there were a lot of tears and emotion, hugs and sharing. this is what art is for me: a way to interface and create community. thank u once again to the kolaj institute and all the wonderful people who attended ??

photographs by @eisenbergpitman

The Warp & Weft Palestine

Here is a recap of a project I’ve been working on since December last year.

The Warp & Weft audio archive came together in 2020 as a way to connect people from across the world during a global pandemic that caused untold loss and grief.

It is an ongoing project that allows diverse people (separated by arbitrary political borders) to share their stories and feel a sense of collective power.

In December 2023 we launched the next phase of this project. In the midst of the gruesome genocide in Gaza, people from around the world are welcome to join us in reading, holding up, and sharing the voices and stories of Palestinian writers and poets.

This is an open archive, so contact us if you would like to contribute a reading and pls follow us on Instagram: @WarpAndWeftArchive

Rajesh Barnabas wrote a piece about this project for Boomtown Press back in January:

‘Sometimes it seems trivial to be reciting poetry at a time of genocide. It can feel like a stunning privilege. But it’s also an act of resistance that goes hand in hand with protests and activist actions. As the Palestinian poet George Abraham has said: “Poetry can’t stop a bullet. Poetry won’t free a prisoner. And that’s why we need to do the political organizing work as well. But if we can’t imagine a free liberated world in language, how can we build one?”’

Read full article here.

last day at kolaj fest

friday june 14th in new orleans: started the day with a big breakfast at who dat cafe – had many brunches there back in feb. best biscuits and homemade jellies. arrived at cafe istanbul a bit late – apparently there is another ‘istanbul cafe’ on royal st and that’s the address i gave uber by mistake. so went on a longish car ride just to loop back to where i started. attended ‘collage & poetry’ followed by ‘time & fragmentation: collage theories.’ clive knights’ presentation intrigued me as i’ve been thinking about fragmentation in the context of war and its impact on the social/ political/ individual body. met the wonderful jenny veninga, a fellow activist and scholar, who shared other brilliant ideas with me. attended ‘getting organized: collage projects’ and then after a quick lunch at st. roch market, was inspired by ‘take me to the water: a baptism in collage,’ a workshop with the amazing lavonna varnado-brown, who talked about claudia rankine’s book ‘citizen’ and the idea of the body having memory – a major inspiration for my work. watch ‘the body has memory’ a video poem i created in 2022 and for which i won best in show at a juried exhibition organized by the huntington arts council in ny. link in comments ?

ended the day with collage & kiki, at the john thompson legacy center, hosted by lavonna varnado brown and jennella young. created collages with other artists and spent a lovely evening. so thankful to kolaj institute for creating this wonderful space at the intersection of art, activism, and academic research. hope to make this an annual ritual inshallah.

presentation and screening at noma

my day today, june 13th, as a series of non-linear moments: lunch at blue oak BBQ with artists phil and debi, a sketch of yours truly by the wonderful @stitchpixie who drew me as i spoke, the screening of ‘return to sender’ + my talk which introduced some of its themes + a brilliant and moving community discussion at the new orleans museum of art, the spectacular madera during a symposium on saving the planet, collage on screen at istanbul cafe, and hanging out with artists julie, diane and robin afterwards. wanted to listen to some jazz but decided to retire for the night. maybe tomorrow.

kolaj panel discussion at noma

attended a panel discussion with artists ryann sterling, ashley teamer, and soraya jean louis moderated by artist and scholar kristina kay robinson. i was nodding vigorously the entire time. here are some things i loved. from soraya jean louis, the idea that POCs are an abstraction – something that cannot be fully encapsulated by the white gaze – but also something which is labeled in v concrete ways. she talked about how cutting/ deconstructing anatomy is not a european practice (picasso learned from egyptian paintings and stylized african representations of the human figure). it is a way for fragmented people to reconstitute/ reassemble themselves. ashley teamer explained how time is not linear in collage, but localized, a collection of moments. it can be stretched or elongated. also compared collage to DJ-ing. collage is broken because that’s the art form, just like scratching records (a blasphemy) is what DJs do because that is their art. finally, i learned about mother catherine seals and the temple of the innocent blood, as well as poverty point (centuries ago, when stonehenge was built and queen nefertiti ruled egypt, indigenous people were building earthen monuments in north louisiana). incredible.

kolaj meet & greet at artisan cafe

my day today: decided to walk to alma cafe (contemporary honduran cuisine) for brunch and walked about 30 minutes in hot nola weather (thank god i didn’t pass out). ordered some baleada sencilla – eggs, refried beans, cream, queso fresco, and avocado served on a homemade flour tortilla. the tortilla was splendid but too much parmesan on top – too salty for me. a slight detour to get a slice of blueberry and marzipan tart at petite clouet cafe. a short trip to lucullus antiques – nothing interesting and too pricey. in the afternoon a meet and greet for all the collage folx at artisan cafe and bar. i met some lovely artists from nyc, chicago, maine, new hampshire, portland, nebraska, etc. finally, a kolaj fest panel discussion at the new orleans museum of art. more about that in next post.

evening with madera

a beautiful evening spent with the brilliant madera who cooked me a lovely meal and welcomed me into her stunning home. madera’s work and passion revolve around recycling, conserving water and energy, transforming trash into beauty, crafting as a tribute to our grandmothers, and living lightly and kindly on this planet. i learn so much from her. what an amazing human!