A few recent review pieces – art, music and poetry:
A review of Wu Tsang’s exhibition at the Cabinet Gallery back in the summer including collaborations with Fred Moten and more for AQNB.
A short-fire riff on Symrun’s Care Work EP from TT (fka Tobago Tracks) for Tiny Mixtapes.
Here a review of poetry collection Kalimba by Petero Kalulé for amberflorazine– turned into a sort of creative-critical reading.
And a review of Liz Artur Johnson’s recent exhibition at the South London Gallery for Artforum (paywall unfortunately):
And for those interested a recording of the poetry performance I was part of in Manchester – Performing Thought 2.0 – working with ‘the (sub)urban finesse’
More to come
Written up a review of ‘Threads’ by Bhanu Kapil, Sandeep Parmar and Nisha Ramayya for Zarf Issue 13. I also have a poem published in this issue – all for £2.
Review here on Artforum (behind paywall) and in print May 2019 edition
Artist Kazim Rashid’s short film ‘2001: Pressure Makes Diamonds’ operates as both an online video hosted by Boiler Room’s 4:3 platform, as well as part of a group exhibition at the Rich Mix focused on Asian identity and culture post-9/11. Billed as a ‘tri-narrative film’, it weaves between 9/11 and the War on Terror, the Oldham riots, and the demise of boxer Prince Naseem to highlight the dearth of prominent Asian culture in a British frame. A tight soundscape threads through the work illustrating the importance of music in presenting a social history.
The film form is grid-like, running three screens across and three screens down, giving a sense of a reinterpreted news channel. At stake is a tension between the immediate spectacle of TV news, and the continued mournful trauma of racism and colonialism. There is a breakdown in genre as the news item is turned into a sport spectacle, and a boxing match into a bloody war. Rashid’s aesthetic sense is rooted in a social understanding of Asian presence in Britain.
Which brings me to the soundtrack. Having acknowledged the influence of Arthur Jafa on his work, Rashid uses music to drive his cinematic soundscape mashing multiple genres together. This is brought to a climax with a beautiful synchronisation between a distorted bollywood song ‘Dum Maaro Dum’ from Hare Krishna Hare Ram (1971) and the demise of Prince Naseem against Barrera. There is a definite evocation of the end of Naseem’s reign as the end of mainstream recognition, and the end of any straightforward sovereign narrative.
The problem of Asian culture, as Rashid presents us with, is also the problem of masculinity highlighted by the fetishisation of Naseem’s body throughout the film. The Prince’s body failing as distorted climax signifies the end of any dominant Asian narrative. However the use of music as a central narrative force seeks to reproduce a culture that is not nostalgic, but rather one that is politically and aesthetically critical. Music as the documenting tool of history leaves it always open to contemporary social and artistic reinterpretations. This avoids a staid representation that often gets nostalgically retold, particularly in British Asian culture, in favour of something generative and open.