Decolonial Body Resonance/ Going inwards
Hello, my name is Mudassir. I’m an MFAMaster of Fine Arts – graduate students will receive this degree student in Media, Art, and Design. I aim to use this project to research intergenerational trauma, healing and cultural hybridity to conceptualize my thesis. I mainly aim to analyze other artist’s works that are relevant to my topic, think of different experiments and be open to the process in how it shapes my thesis project.
This project can be described as a metaphorical (audio-visual) walk tracing intergenerational trauma, manifestations of trauma in the body, cultural hybridity, and healing. Tracing ancestral and indigenous wisdom and fighting the erasure that’s been imposed by colonial violence. The walk will be a symbol to dive into different spaces and reflections. Through cultural hybridity (Karachi, Berlin, Weimar), and observations of the landscape, nature (trees, water, horizon), liminal spaces, the ancestral ghosts will be traced that lurk helplessly, waiting to be invoked.
This project makes use of sound and video as modes of intervention into the subject of healing. An audio-visual installation making use of video projections, spatialized sound and elements of sound installation. The sonic meditations will consist of field recordings, archival recordings, ambient sounds, recordings of rituals and ceremonies. Mixing more popular forms like songwriting with experimental electroacoustic elements, and sacred with the commonplace.
In the Summer Semester 2021, I interned at Savvy Contemporary in Berlin. On their website, they describe themselves as “As an art space, discursive platform, eating and drinking spot, njangi house, space for conviviality SAVVY Contemporary situates itself at the threshold of notions and constructs of the West and non-West, primarily to understand and negotiate between, and obviously to deconstruct the ideologies and connotations eminent to such constructs.” There I got to interact with various artists working with themes of decolonization, queerness, and healing. This had a lasting impact on me as I have felt gravitated towards these themes for a while now due to personal and research interests. I was particularly involved in the radio pillar of Savvy Contemporary, which influenced me in seeing radio as a mode of resistance.
One of the first readings that really inspired was Fu-Kiau’s “African Cosmology of the Bantu-Kongo”, where he writes about the seventh plane that all humans possess. This seventh plane refers to the ability to go inwards. It is responsible for one’s creativity, connection to one’s true essence, and satisfaction with life. When one is oppressed in any way by the world around (colonialism, sexual violence, or gendered violence), this seventh plane gets fractured. This project seeks ways to research and manifest ways of healing the seventh plane by re-establishing a connection with the body.
In December, 2021, I produced a 20 minutes long radio piece for an open call by the Weimar Radio Art Residency artist, Maria Luisa. This was for a group show, where the central theme was the violence of patriarchy and ways of healing. This was the first work I produced working with the theme during the semester. In April 2022, I will be part of the week-long APAL (Asian Performing Artists Lab) Amnesia Residency, that will take place at a farm near Berlin. I applied to their open call with my thesis project. The central themes of the residency are the themes of queerness, decolonization and fighting the erasure imposed by dominant narratives. This will be a group of artists belonging to different disciplines, including dance, performance, theatre, video, etc. I aim to expand my radio piece into a video or performance piece focusing on nature, group rituals.
I imagine developing my project with a series of different audio-visual interventions, and finding connections between them to produce the final project. Since I’m working with the theme of cultural hybridity, I find it essential to also go on a research trip to Pakistan later this year, and produce sounds and visuals there.
Various artists have influenced me in the process of research. Korakrit Arunanondchai influenced me with his research themes, and also the use of video and music in his works. Details of his influence can be found in my presentation.
Cecile. B. Evans has influenced me through her video works. How fluid her approach to storytelling and narrative shaping is. Like Korakrit, she mixes different mediums including animation, phone videos, archives, and cinematic footage.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres influenced me with his minimal approach, and how he curated his works in such a free and queer way. I feel touched by the sadness in his work. The other artists mentioned above, are mainly video artists, but they also have other elements present in the room. This medium can be called an interactive room or expanded cinema and this will most likely play a role in my final display.
The Sarab Collective and the artist Omer Wasim from my hometown Karachi, have also played a crucial role. I got to collaborate with them on two different projects, where my contribution was sound design and composition. This allowed me to explore different ways of connecting research with the practice
Joan Jones is another artist that I found very interesting in her innovative mix of different mediums and approach to performance: "Performance is the medium I use to construct an object that only exists in time, and which is worked out in space with bodies, with my body. Performance for me is three-dimensional live poetry in space."
The overlap between sound, video and performance, and how they all are time-based mediums, is another aspect that influences my approach.
APAL – Asian Performing Artists Lab
I got to participate in a week long residency program. The idea of this residency is to give space to artists with an Asian background, living and working in Germany. This is a process-driven residency, where the focus is more on the exchange between the artists rather than the final outcome. We lived on a farm near Dessau, and the final presentation of the work took place at Berlin Ring Theatre. I was hoping to collaborate with other artists, especially those working with choreography. However, due to the limitation of time, this didn’t take place. But we’re planning to collaborate in the coming months, and hopefully for my thesis project. I produced an updated version of my radio piece, this was specifically for a live performance at the Ring Theatre. Research-wise, I went into a slightly new direction. Where I researched about ghost stories and specifically ghost stories from South Asia. The ghost stories from South Asia represent collective fears and traumas. They represent the expectations people have from gender (and patriarchy), unfinished cycles or the pain that cannot be expressed without the metaphor of ghost. Through a western lens, the ghost can be compared to the psychological aspect of Shadow. The Shadow is comprised of those qualities, impulses, and emotions that we cannot bear for others to see and thus cast into the hidden domain of ourselves In my performance, we tried to create an immersive atmosphere where people can listen to the sound piece. The lights, smoke and my shadow behind the projector were the other elements, along with the main element of sound.
Link 1: Original 20 minutes Radio Piece
Link 2: Updated Version: 8 minutes
Further Development I am researching and planning the development of the visual part of this project. I am seeking collaborators who work with movement and choreography, as trauma is very physical and present within our bodies. The dysregulation of the nervous system can be represented through movement and sound. Secondly, I am trying to find case studies or specific locations that I want to research about. Through specific sites, I want to research about intergenerational trauma and possible ways of healing.
Possible Locations: 1- Shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi: The shrine of the sufi saint near the shore in Karachi. The presence of this shrine is believed to be protecting the city from storms and other natural disasters. In the last years, a lot of gentrification has taken place in the surroundings of the shrine. So much, that a lot of followers of the shrine now even have trouble getting access to the shrine. Such shrines often have devotional music playing that’s meant to induce the state of trance. I am also very interested in recording and researching about the music in this place. 2- Karachi Sea 3- Nature and trees in Germany 4- Buchenwald 5- Transnational and cultural hybridity: Indian/Pakistani stores and restaurants in Berlin 6- Healing: Shamanic traditions, Sufi circles in Berlin
At this point, I feel I have done a lot of research, and want to be more specific in terms of where I want to go with all this information. My intention is not to explore all of these locations, but to choose places that are possible in terms of practical considerations like time, and also that make the most sense in terms of my project. Till the end of June, I hope to have meetings with different artists that have worked with similar themes in South Asian region and Germany both, to get their reflection on my current progress and approach. Simultaneously, I'm planning the production and researching visual style.
Experimental Film or Video Art is the kind of aesthetic I have in mind for the visual part of this project. I have been feeling inspired by works that are grounded in research and social aspects, but with a contemporary and experimental aesthetic. A lot of these works make use of drone footage. Something I find very relevant for my project as I believe that’s an interesting way to represent ghosts and trauma. I also imagine a mix of natural spaces, mixed with urban spaces.
The video is just a collection of different shots I have taken with my phone to generate ideas. This will not be a part of the final work but it’s just an experiment during the process to start exploring my ideas in simple ways.
Summary: interventions on decolonial ways of healing. Searching for the sacred and the commonplace and the play between the two.
Possible Interventions: File:Liminal.jpg -