we are lady parts

watched the first 4 episodes of ‘we are lady parts.’ wow. it’s one of the best shows i’ve seen. ever. nida manzoor (the writer, creator, director) is an absolute genius. how long have we (muslim/brown) women waited for something like this. can a show this creative and trope-free even be produced in america? i hope so. we need more.

Trailer for The Injured Body

Dear friends and fam, it is with immense pleasure and hope that I would like to share the official trailer for The Injured Body: A Film about Racism in America. I have been working on this documentary (inspired by Claudia Rankine’s poetry) for three years now. I have interviewed remarkable women and collaborated with incredible dancers. My closest partners in this project have been Rajesh Barnabas (cinematography, sound, post production), Mariko Yamada (dance choreography, costume design, translation between dance and film), Erica Jae (photography) and Tom Davis (music) – the most talented and kindest people on the planet. It has been an extraordinary, eye-opening, emotional experience. I hope that some of the beauty and brilliance we experienced while filming will come through in this short preview. I’ll finish editing by the end of this year and will be working with Don Casper on post-production early next year. Pls ‘like’ and comment on YouTube if you can. And pls share widely.

Coming in 2022, this…… is…… The Injured Body.

More info at NeelumFilms.com.

Interview with asianculturevulture.com

An interview with asianculturevulture.com about our documentary film, A Thin Wall, which will be available to watch in the UK, as a way to mark the independence of Pakistan and India:

“THERE’S an opportunity to catch a poignant, moving and powerful documentary about the Partition and hear two filmmakers talk about its making and their own families’ experiences of living across what became a tragic divide.

‘A Thin Wall’ will be available for a week to UK audiences on the Modern Films platform from this Friday (August 13) and a ticket includes a pre-recorded Q&A with director Mara Ahmed and co-producer Surbhi Dewan.”

“This part of the world has always been incredibly diverse. To want to uproot, disenfranchise, oppress, and eliminate minorities is the stuff of nightmares. It is a continuation of colonial ‘divide and rule’ policies. We need to work together on poverty alleviation, healthcare, employment, and education. We ought to focus on climate change and ways to ensure water and sustainability. This is what will make or break us, not some imagined religious or ethnic purity.” (Mara Ahmed)

The film is screening as part of events marking the Partition and independence for both Pakistan (August 14) and India (August 15).

Shyam Benegal’s Yatra

Love this so much <3

Repost from @ind.igenous:

Here’s Neena Gupta singing a few lines of ‘Chan Kitthan’ in Shyam Benegal’s Yatra (1986), a miniseries for Doordarshan on the Indian Railways. Wrote about this delightful series a couple of weeks ago, but totally forgot to mention this surprise discovery!

Within my limited listening of Panjabi music, Chan Kitthan remains an absolute favourite. This is actually a folk song of the Saraiki language, and the first line rougly translates to, ‘My love, where have you been the entire night?’ She calls her love ‘chan’ – the moon. A song of lonely love. There are several versions that one can find on the internet, from Attaullah Khan’s classic to Ali Sethi’s soft rendition, and Ayushmann Khurrana with his reimagined version – each of them beautiful in their very own ways.

(Note: Couldn’t confirm the name of the singer from the credits because it wasn’t there, but this is most probably sung by Neena Gupta herself.)

owners of the earth at ICA

also at ICA’s watershed:

“Boston-based artist Stephen Hamilton highlights the generations-long tradition of indigo dyeing in West Africa too often ignored in the accounting of early American history. Included is Hamilton’s painting Owners of the Earth (2020), a richly layered mixed-media work that refers to traditional artforms and philosophies from the Yoruba people in West Africa. The work is accompanied by a description of the unrecognized historical contributions of West Africa to indigo use in the Americas and educational materials depicting indigo dyeing techniques that the artist adopted during his research in southwestern Nigeria. Hamilton brings these histories—referenced in Firelei Baez’s monumental Watershed installation—to life through words, images, and textiles.”

institute of contemporary art in boston

it rained today so spent the entire day at ICA (the institute of contemporary art in boston). took the ferry to the north side of the boston harbor to visit ICA’s watershed – a wonderful gallery space. right now it is housing the work of dominican american artist firelei báez:

“In her largest sculptural installation to date, the artist reimagines the archeological ruins of the Sans-Souci Palace in Haiti as though they were revealed in East Boston after the sea receded from the Watershed floor. The Watershed’s location—in a working shipyard and as a trade site and point of entry and home for immigrants over decades—provides a pivotal point of reference. Báez embeds Sans-Souci within the geological layers of Boston, where histories of revolution and independence are integral to the city’s identity. This site-specific installation will invite visitors to traverse passageways and travel through time, engaging with streams of influence and interconnectedness. The work’s intricately painted architectural surfaces include symbols of healing and resistance, patterning drawn from West African indigo printing traditions (later used in the American South), and sea growths native to Caribbean waters. Báez’s sculpture points to the centuries-long exchanges of ideas and influence between Europe, the African continent, and the Americas.”

A Thin Wall screening in the UK

This is exciting UK friends!

Repost from @ukasianfilmfestival:

To mark @southasianheritagemonth_uk & celebrate both India & Pakistan Independence Day, #reelN & @modernfilmsent are screening documentary film A THIN WALL. Screening to take place from Friday 13th August to Friday 20th August, Geo blocked to the UK only. There will also be an online Q&A that can be accessed with the ticket price. Purchase tickets via the Modern Films website: modernfilms.com/athinwall.

Event organised by ReelN Ltd @aman_kdhillon and supported by UKAFF.

A THIN WALL (2015)
Duration: 65 mins
Director: @mara__ahmed
Co-Producer: @surbhid1

A THIN WALL is a documentary about memory, history and the possibility of reconciliation. It focuses on the Partition of India in 1947, but derives lessons that remain urgently relevant today. Shot on both sides of the border, in India and Pakistan, A THIN WALL is a personal take on Partition rooted in stories passed down from one generation to another. It is written and directed by Mara Ahmed and co-produced by Surbhi Dewan. Both filmmakers are descendants of families torn apart by Partition. The film is also a work of art infused with original animation, music and literary writing.

immersive van gogh in nyc

immersive van gogh at pier 36 felt like a touristy thing to do, but i got to see my lovely kids and have brunch with them, so what could be better? my deep connection to van gogh: i read “lust for life,” irving stone’s biography (a comprehensive tome on van gogh’s life and work but also on impressionism broadly) when i was in high school. his tragic story and gorgeous art (it pulsates with color and intensity) have been with me all my life and perhaps became a lens through which i learned to appreciate all art.

at the end of the show, we finally come face to face with van gogh’s self portraits, to the sound of handel’s saraband, and it strikes one what a hard, sometimes brutal, life he lived and how commercially profitable his art has become now. i hope that his brother’s family is getting a piece of it still, his brother theo who supported him through all the illnesses and crises.

pier 36’s “75,000 square foot waterfront space located in manhattan’s lower east side” didn’t really work for me. i prefer the intimacy of arttechouse for a truly immersive experience, but this is a great instagram opportunity.

imaginary man

shahzia sikander. miniature in mughal style: imaginary man, 1991 (vegetable color, watercolor, tea, and gold leaf on wasli paper, 11 x 8 inches). this piece made me tear up. its exquisite detail, the subdued color palette, the delicate hands and fingers, the otherworldly beauty of this serene male figure — a bearded, muslim figure and all that it has come to mean in the western imaginary, yet here it is, portrayed as something distinguished and light, frail rather than threatening, gossamer rather than immovable. i stood there for a long time, coming close to the piece and connecting with the arduous, detail-oriented work that went into creating this dazzling art. it took sikander years to complete it.

shahzia sikander: extraordinary realities

this past weekend, my sister, daughter and i went to see ‘shahzia sikander: extraordinary realities’ at the morgan library and museum in nyc. a tremendous exhibition even though it spans the first 15 years of her work only. she moved to the US the same year i did, in 1993, and i’ve been following her work since the 90s. rooted in rigorous research, filled with symbolism and iconography, unafraid to engage with the politics of empire, race and patriarchy, bent on creating a unique and personal vocabulary, sikander’s work is bold, original, and always ahead of its time. it is also beautiful – many pieces painted painstakingly over years. the details are astonishing, the overall impact of her images almost mystical (in how they simultaneously activate the mind and enchant the eyes), and the narrative intricacies of her work (with its rich subtext and references) demand attention. that she is an artist from lahore, educated at the national college of arts (NCA), who studied miniature painting under the tutelage of professor bashir ahmad, makes her all the more special to pakistanis. my daughter read every art label and took pictures of every artwork. she told me it was the best exhibition she’d ever been to. it’s moving to encounter extraordinary art. it’s sublime to recognize bits and pieces of oneself in it. i will be sharing images in several posts. as molly crabapple has said: if u are in ny, u owe it to yourself to see this exhibition.

morgan library and jazz at birdland

yesterday at the morgan library & museum with my lovelies, persian food for lunch at ravagh on madison ave, visits to vintage clothing stores (mostly for my sister and daughter), some matcha at cha cha, and then dinner and jazz at the birdland jazz club featuring arturo o’farrill and the afro latin jazz ensemble ? live jazz makes me happy! more about what we saw at the morgan library soon.