haseena moin (1941-2021)

pakistani playwright and screenwriter haseena moin has passed away. tv shows she wrote like ‘tanhayiaan’ and ‘dhoop kinaray’ will always be a part of my childhood (and that of an entire generation of pakistanis). although i didn’t like some of the detours in her writing and most of the comic relief, i appreciated the strong and complex female protagonists she created. that a woman who was born in 1941 was one of the most popular, enduring, and beloved scriptwriters and storytellers in pakistan at a time when there was only one tv channel and no internet, tells one how much power she commanded. many of her lines and characters figured prominently in popular culture and opened people’s eyes to women who were independent, funny, eccentric and in charge of their narratives. feels like the end of an era. may she rest in peace.

The Warp & Weft on Reclaiming the Narrative

Dear all, Reclaiming the Narrative has been kindly broadcasting some of the Warp & Weft stories as the last segment of their weekly show on WXIR (Fridays at 1pm and Saturdays at 7:30am) and on WAYO (Saturdays at 4pm and Sundays at 7pm).
All their shows are available on Soundcloud. Last Friday (March 19) they shared ‘El Lenguaje es mi Tierra, mi Identidad’ by Tania Day-Magallon, the Friday before (March 12), they aired ‘Celebrate With Me’ by Erica Bryant, and finally, on Friday, March 5, they shared ‘Black Futures Matter’ by Quajay Donnell. Thank you RTN for sending these powerful stories out in the world via multiple channels.

My art video ‘Le Mot Juste’ is here

My experimental/art video is here! Check out ‘Le Mot Juste’ along with 20 other works of art! I created this piece out of footage shot by Rajesh Barnabas and a dance performance by Mariko Yamada and Cloria Sutton <3

Enter the Diasporic Rhizome to experience the works of 21 artists who are reexamining our histories, commenting on current social issues, and dreaming of new realities. The collective works in this virtual exhibition use innovation and imagination as change agents where the digital space becomes the apparatus for community building, challenging the world around us to transform and address our growing needs.

The 21 participating artists in Diasporic Rhizome were selected from an open call by the following jury: Faisal Anwar, Ambika Trasi, Brendan Fernandes. (Ambika Trasi curated the Salman Toor exhibition that I loved at the Whitney Museum)

Diasporic Rhizome is produced by South Asia Institute.

The Warp & Weft – Second Set of Stories

4 more stories today, including one in Spanish, and a 3-part artistic response by Andrea Vazquez-Aguirre Kaufmann! Stories by Tania Day-Magallon, Erica Bryant, Darien Lamen and Charlotte Clarke. Listen here and pls ‘refresh’ if it takes time to load.


El Lenguaje es mi Tierra, mi Identidad por Tania Day-Magallon
Language is my Land, my Identity by Tania Day-Magallon: Language is my land, my home, my mother; and these three elements are feminine in Spanish. When you strip me of my language, it takes away my form of expression. A part of me and my Divine Feminine is left bone-dry. My identity is not only changed – I migrate out of myself and end up farther away from home, which is already physically distant, on the other side of the wall.

Celebrate With Me by Erica Bryant
I have one photograph of my great grandfather, Roscoe Foster. He is sitting in a rocking chair, on the porch of his home in Columbia, Mississippi, with a black dog. Family says that when the Ku Klux Klan was riding near, he would sit on that porch with a shotgun.

Time Travelers by Charlotte Clarke
Time. It is stamped upon our birth certificate upon arrival and upon our death certificate at departure. It is also the container for everything in between.

A Cover Story by Darien Lamen
Sometimes I feel like a ghost, haunting the ruins of respectable society. My name is Darien Lamen, PhD. But Lamen isn’t my real name – it’s a cover story.

A Three-Part Response to the Archive by Andrea Vazquez-Aguirre Kaufmann: A dance and video response

The Warp & Weft is a multilingual archive of stories that seeks to capture the 2020 zeitgeist. The archive is curated by interdisciplinary artist and activist filmmaker Mara Ahmed. A set of new stories will be released each week via RoCo and Mara’s social media, during the course of ‘Last Year on Earth.’

The Warp & Weft – First Set of Stories

The wait is over! The Warp & Weft is coming to life! Here are the first 4 stories and a musical response. Pls listen here.


My Story by Lauren Jimerson
I have a story for you and, I am sorry to say, it is not a happy one. My son and I completed work for a BIPOC art show, at a local gallery. I submitted a self-portrait that depicts a human alien. It’s a visual representation of the alienation I experience being out in the world.

My Love Affair with Food by Debora McDell-Hernandez
My relationship with food is a story of a quest for culinary euphoria, but there are many chapters in this story such as family traditions, friendships, travel, love, grief, comfort, and survival.

Black Futures Matter by Quajay Donnell
Growing up, I don’t recall sitting down with my mother and stepfather talking about the birds and bees, but I do remember the other talk. The one about how to respond and act when dealing with the police. That talk is one of survival if you find yourself face-to-face with the law. I remember it vividly.

Moja djeca, gdje duša na?e mi smiraj – Alma Omerhodzic
My Children: Where My Soul Finds Peace by Alma Omerhodzic: It always starts this way. Suddenly, without warning, and right in the deepest core of my being. Sometimes it is a smell, sometimes a taste, and other times, I am not even sure why, but a word will hit me in the depths of my soul, depths that I didn’t know existed.

Lost Property by Sarah Gillespie: A musical response to the archive

The Warp & Weft is a multilingual archive of stories that seeks to capture the 2020 zeitgeist. The archive is curated by interdisciplinary artist and activist filmmaker Mara Ahmed (@mara__ahmed). A set of new stories will be released each week via RoCo and Mara’s social media, during the course of ‘Last Year on Earth.’

Borders Can Be Borderlands

My piece in Mason Street’s Winter Issue 2021 published today.

‘It used to be that borders were formed naturally, by oceans and mountains, carved out by the physical contours of the earth’s surface. There was something poetic about these landforms, extending from foothills and valleys, to plains and plateaus, all the way to seafloors. They were shaped by wind and water erosion, pushed up by the collision of tectonic plates, forged by volcanic eruptions, sandblasted and weathered over millions of years. They were substantive, grounded in history.

The borders that came out of the crumbling of empires, in the 20th century, were different. Cartographic inventions meant to divvy up world resources and power, divorced from indigenous logic or priorities. A few sheets of stolen paper.’

More here.

the memes are for us

just to clarify, the bernie memes are for us, hardcore bernie supporters. we’re not posting to defang bernie or minimize his message, but because he’s the real deal. me personally, i am also enjoying the memes because, as jennifer jajeh pointed out, inaugurations are corny. also, settler anthems, flags, expensive peacoats, and other misc pageantry don’t do anything for me. so i am with bernie: apart from the crowd, doing his own thing, aware of the sabotage, but continuing the work. neoliberals, centrists and warren fans who went after bernie, hands off pls:)

seeing ‘the changemakers’ at RMSC

at the rochester museum & science center today where we saw ‘the changemakers’ exhibit which is stunning. recognized so many beautiful women friends who are part of the exhibition. two pieces from my art series ‘this heirloom’ are on display there. one is a graphic collage with my mom and her sister, when they were little girls. the other is called ‘embroidered dreams’ and it’s a tribute to my paternal grandmother, niaz fatima. my grandmother became a widow when she was quite young and struggled to raise and educate her children, in a highly patriarchal family system. i was wondering how she would feel about her picture hanging in a museum in rochester, new york, a tribute by a granddaughter she didn’t see grow up. it felt empowering.
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rmsc #thechangemakers #beachangemaker #womensupportingwomen #womenempowerment #pakistan #rochesteny

robert fisk (1946 – 2020)

i will never forget his searing, disturbing description of what he saw at the sabra and shatila refugee camps, right after the massacre in 1982. he was one of the first journalists on the scene. an incredibly important witness.

“He reported extensively on the first Gulf War basing himself for a time in Baghdad where he was fiercely critical of other foreign correspondents whom he accused of covering the conflict from their hotel rooms. He also covered the US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and frequently condemned US involvement in the region.”

gadot as cleopatra

a friend asked me to speak to her class about feminism and islam, something i’ve written about, so i’ve been refreshing my reading of texts by three spectacularly incisive women of color – saba mahmood, houria boutelja and francoise verges. the timing could not be better as the controversy over casting gal gadot, a white israeli actress, in the role of cleopatra continues on social media.

i know this will ruffle feathers, but i’ve been meaning to write this since the new ‘wonder woman’ came out (also played by gal gadot). i grew up in the middle of europe, when wonder woman was on fire (albeit dubbed in french) and i have to say, it never did anything for me. i’ve read ad infinitum how wonder woman changed the lives of western/white women and i’ve always felt completely disconnected from that discourse. wonder woman, as invented by a white man and played by a skinny white woman, did not resonate with me. most of the time, she seemed to be awkwardly balancing herself while twirling, burdened with an impractical costume, and, i felt as a child, more limited in her powers than other super heroes. she did not represent strength to me. the bionic woman (also dubbed in french) seemed more sensible and badass than her.

it’s pretty fitting then that gal gadot, a supporter of IDF and settler colonialism, came to embody white feminism, its artifacts and imagery – something i am indifferent to.
in the same way cleopatra, as delivered by elizabeth taylor, felt sad and campy, so very campy, and failed to project female empowerment. she was obviously conceived and executed by a bunch of men in hollywood. now that we’ve come a long way, in terms of women’s rights, a group of white women want their chance to co-opt the story of an egyptian queen. i’m sure that their counterparts will be inspired, but the rest of us — brown, black, women from the east and the global south — will just have to do our own thing:)