Category Archives: art

Borderless: A conversation with mara ahmed

The first part of my interview with the brilliant Claudia Pretelin for Instruments of Memory is here. Repost from @instrumentsofmemory

“Mara Ahmed is a Pakistani-American activist, artist, and independent filmmaker. She was born in Lahore, Pakistan, about seventeen miles from the Indian border. Her deeply formative migration pathway has informed her practice and has helped her develop a body of work that addresses notions of history, heritage, and tradition. Deeply connected with her roots and in constant dialogue with her contemporaneity and the political moment, Ahmed’s work creates art that subverts boundaries and connects different cultures with the universality of her topics.”

You can read interview here.

Trump Playing Golf

In a ‘Mass Art Protest,’ Artists Across America Drew Trump Playing Golf on the NYTimes Cover Memorializing the 100,000 Coronavirus Dead

Marcel Dzama’s watercolor of President Donald Trump playing golf superimposed over the New York Times coronavirus cover. Photo courtesy of Marcel Dzama.

My interview with instruments of memory coming up in june

#Repost @instrumentsofmemory: In June, don’t miss a two-part interview with Long Island-based activist, artist, and filmmaker Mara Ahmed | @mara__ahmed .
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In conjunction with her production company Neelum Films, Mara has written and directed three documentaries The Muslims I Know, Pakistan One on One, and A Thin Wall. She is currently working on The Injured Body, a documentary about racism in America, focusing exclusively on the voices of women of color. Mara’s artwork is described by the artist as a multimedia fusion of collage work, photography, graphic art, and film. .
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instrumentsofmemory #womeninthearts #conversationswithwomeninthearts #artist #filmmakers #activist #filmmaker #MaraAhmed #artstories #ClaudiaPretelin #womenofcolor #documentary #comingsoon

A conversation with Mara Ahmed

Caliban Never Belonged to Shakespeare

Marcos Gonsalez: No matter how much confidence I gain as a critic, Shakespeare’s oeuvre still confounds me. I boggle over lines, dwell on stanzas, wonder on the motivations of characters. I change my mind over meanings I thought were settled. I possess no mastery of these texts. And it takes me a long time to reconcile with the fact it’s okay to not understand or to feel like the text rejects me. It takes me a long time to learn it’s okay to linger in not knowing because there’s pleasure, there’s knowledge, to be gained in the mystery of words, of what words can do.

This kind of relationship to literature, however, is a privilege given to particular writers. The language of Shakespeare, like the language of a Melville, Whitman, Faulkner, Foucault, is difficult, hard at times, elusive and allusive, and sometimes inaccessible. And they are literature, read widely and read in classrooms. Other kinds of writers—the Morrisons or the Torres or the Kincaids—we expect to represent and identify, to speak for entire cultures and communities, to be forthcoming and transparent. We expect those who are not like the Shakespeares and the Whitmans and Foucaults to not put up a fight to be understood, to be unchallenging and welcoming, accommodating and unobtrusive.

[…] From the moment I can think, I make the connection between whiteness and language. Not to mention my Spanish is taken from me as a child in speech pathology classes, and the Purépecha language which my family at one point spoke is a twice removed robbery. Whiteness is an aspiration, a fantasy of upward mobility, a pseudo-guarantee that I and my kind will be removed from generational poverty and racial violence, a condition hundreds upon hundreds of years in the making. The tone of whiteness as it is used in the university, or in kindergarten classrooms, or creative writing workshops, or the emails one has with an editor, is one to make distinctions between who is worthy of opportunities and financial security, and who is not.

There I am through these nearly 30 years of life, being Caliban, wanting to learn the language of my many Prosperos in order to use it against them. And my family? Those dark and huddled masses? Who plays them in Shakespeare’s comedy? They are Sycorax, banished from the plot, no dialogue, no stage directions, outside the margins of one of literature’s greatest masterpieces. More here.

365 pelham

I can’t wait to read ‘This Is One Way to Dance’ by Sejal Shah <3

‘My life is a ranch house—laid out squarely—not coyly, in levels like the Colonial homes on the street. No dormer windows or dreamy second story verandas or slight, whimsical balconies in my house. No attic bedroom or interesting third story. I am straightforward, to a fault, often without decoration.

Sometimes I think I am uncomplicated, but I know it’s not true. Ranch houses have their hidden spaces and places, too, even if they are not as old, not as interesting, not as layered as the fake Tudors and the Capes; they suggest a vision of family I could never quite get behind. Ranches present a large formal living room with picture windows and wide, open spaces. Pictures of a happy family. I never wanted anyone to be able to see into my home—houses are for privacy, places to read and restore.’ More here.

happy birthday malcolm x

From Noura Erakat: Happy born day to the visionary who saw strength in our unity, who imagined us as an Afro-Asian collective, who never appealed for inclusion but insisted on liberation on our own terms. May our ongoing efforts do justice to your sacrifice. Today and everyday. #MalcolmX #Freedom

Artist: T. A. Charron, Malcolm X, 2007

Asian Pacific American Our Experience: Local Stories

Asian Americans is a sweeping 5-part historical series chronicling two centuries of evolving contributions and challenges experienced by Asian Americans in the United States. The series explores bold, new perspectives that recalibrate the way we look at those experiences, and reveals the vital role of Asian Americans in shaping American history and identity.’ [from Vivek Maddala who composed the music score for this series]

Episodes 1 & 2 premiered yesterday on PBS (broadcast and streaming), and Episodes 3, 4, & 5 premiere tonight (May 12) at 8 PM.

I was honored to be one of the local Asian Americans asked to share their stories and perspectives, as part of the collaboration between APAA (Asian/Pacific Islander/American Association of Greater Rochester) and WXXI. Thank you Mimi and Lily Lee for your continuing work in our community.

You can watch the spots, including my own, below. My only gripe is that, in my intro, I mentioned how I come from the Global South/colonized world and how that impacts my identity and work, which was edited out. But the rest is still here:)

Watch at this link.

The Changemakers: Rochester Women Who Changed the World

Dear friends, I’m thrilled to share that I will be one of the women featured in a new exhibition, ‘The Changemakers: Rochester Women Who Changed the World,’ inspired by the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment and commemoration of the women’s suffrage movement.

The Changemakers will open on October 9, 2020 in the Riedman Gallery at the Rochester Museum & Science Center.

It will be a community-curated exhibition that hopes to celebrate historical and contemporary women visionaries, trailblazers, inventors, social innovators, and entrepreneurs in western New York, through compelling, untold narratives. It will use Immersive, collections-rich spaces and hands-on experiences to give visitors new access to insights from the past, encourage gender equity in the present, and inspire a better future.

I will be there on Oct 8th! What a treat! #ChangemakersRoc

doing a tv spot for asian pacific american heritage month

working with #APAA (asian pacific islander american association of rochester) and #WXXI to celebrate asian pacific american heritage month. 

From ‘Anna Liffey’ by Eavan Boland

In the end
It will not matter
That I was a woman. I am sure of it.
The body is a source. Nothing more.
There is a time for it. There is a certainty
About the way it seeks its own dissolution.
Consider rivers.
They are always en route to
Their own nothingness. From the first moment
They are going home. And so
When language cannot do it for us,
Cannot make us know love will not diminish us,
There are these phrases
Of the ocean
To console us.
Particular and unafraid of their completion.
In the end
Everything that burdened and distinguished me
Will be lost in this:
I was a voice.

American Muslim Trailer

Excited about this upcoming documentary ‘American Muslim’ which reframes American history by making Muslims visible and telling their stories. For example, did you know about the Bilali Muhammad Document? It is a handwritten Arabic manuscript on West African Islamic law, written in the 19th century by Bilali Muhammad, an enslaved West African held on Sapelo Island, in Georgia.