Notes on Kazim Rashid, ‘2001: Pressure Makes Diamonds’

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. 

https://fourthree.boilerroom.tv/film/2001-pressure-makes-diamonds-kazim-rashid

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TELFAR’S COLLAB WITH FAKA BROUGHT AN EVENING OF THE EPHEMERAL TO THE SERPENTINE

Wrote this piece for Mixmag

 

https://mixmag.net/feature/telfars-collab-with-faka-brought-an-evening-of-the-ephemeral-to-the-serpentine

 

IMAGE: LAYO MUSSI

Realities/Realness: ‘Pose’ (FX)

 

With the finale of ‘Pose’ recently aired in the US and the second series already in the works, a UK release is still to be announced. Meanwhile streams are fairly easy to find…

The TV series Pose (FX) is part of a growing visibility of trans narratives in popular culture. This visibility of narrative is raising a number of concerns around the relationship between the contemporary and the historical. There is a clear attempt for Pose to read as informed and informing a present increasingly filled with cliches and appropriations of queer culture, specifically black/brown formulations that seemed to reach an apex in the 1980s. What is interesting is the predominance of style in this narrative, and its cultural presence in general. The focus on presence evades, or perhaps aesthetically develops, the discourse around representation. There is a feeling that the content, context and the possibility of Pose’s production arranges an ecology of historical interactions which works counter to presentist formulations of media representation that often feed neoliberal politics of ahistorical identity and commodification.

There are two points that Pose are working on at the point of convergence: performance and conjuncture. I speak of conjuncture here as something like the relationship between the discursive formation of trans-visibility and the cultural infrastructure in current formation. Specifically thinking of the TV-form Pose is working at the cross between showrunner Ryan Murphy’s Glee, producer Our Lady J’s Transparent, gritty urban dramas such as The Wire and The Deuce, Ru Paul’s Drag Race and the media presence of producer Janet Mock. The possibility of its production thus has a grounding in the current productions in TV discourse.

That televisual possibility of production converges with a particular idea of performance which is imbedded in vogue culture. The dynamic ensemble driving houses Evangelista, Abundance and Ferocity operates as social infrastructure providing the possibility of queer life. The balls thus are shown as a regular crystallisation of the social interplay and performance encountered daily.  Pose is pushing us to think of the daily ordinariness of the performance. This is a de-sensationalising move, which is mirrored in the general tone and fashion on show. There is a dappled, careful sensuality, which admittedly starts off a little boring until the characters are fleshed out. This is reminiscent of The Chi  or Moonlight, rather than the sensationalist voyeurism of David Simon’s The Wire or The Deuce, something which Janet Mock explicitly set out as a goal.

While some have described this as part of a sanitisation of queer culture, I would suggest the conventionality of social and familial navigation is both a strategy and a deconstruction of normative narrative. The motifs and genres at play are manifold and diverse: vogue ball culture in general; gay men romance in the case of Damon and Ricky, and Pray Tell; the navigation of the AIDs crisis for Pray Tell and Bianca in particular; the sex work narrative involving Angel and a token white family; a background of drug culture with the figure of Papi; and the navigation of gender reassignment and romance in the case of house mothers Bianca and Elektra.

And yet these are all told through an ecology of interactions occurring within the domesticity of a queer house. The conventionality and genericism of adolescent romance is undercut with the looming of HIV/AIDs and queer homelessness in the case of Damon and Ricky. Similarly the sex work narrative of Angel’s is flipped as the suburban white professional is made to be the interloper into her social environment, rather than the trans sex worker being the peripheral underdeveloped character. The vicissitudes and intensities of these relationships and navigations are woven into an ensemble cast centred through their house mothers, specifically Bianca Evangelista and Elektra Abundance. Queerness here is the deconstruction or desedimentation of conventional normative narratives of family. Instead the possibility of familial and joyous social life is shown, and present, through the building of a social environment.

This presence of such life, and its manifold dynamism, is what makes Pose groundbreaking. To end it thinking through the historical, we are met with this temporal relationship between commodification of a halcyon past within an ahistorical present, set against the ability of the historical to reveal the presence of the subaltern [that made unrecognisable in civil and political life].

In Episode 6 we find Pray Tell entering a period introspection after being diagnosed HIV+. In yearning for a time pre-epidemic he turns to replaying Love is the Message (1973) by MFSB. The musical takes the form of that prehistoric, that gesture of subaltern presence.

 

Nodalities: Gaika, ‘Basic Volume’

Gaika’s first LP proper Basic Volume (Warp Records) enters the continuum of the ghostly matter that we call musical (sub)culture at the cusp between aesthetics and politics. There’s a feeling of Gaika as a nodal point triangulating a problem of the contemporary. This LP is part of that emerging aesthetic project the groundwork of which has been in motion for some time now.

 

This idea of time is central, with futurist dystopia inscribed into London territory as if the antagonism of urban life produces this out-of-jointness in temporality itself. A gothic time. Gaika’s resonance, and ability to tune into and amplify this warped sensibility is exemplified in his cross-referential musicality, playing through British-Caribbean soundsystem culture and industrial electronics. There’s a crispness in production, with the likes of SOPHIE and Jam City contributing, which is part of a configuration of contemporaneity that is embedded across the tracklist bringing a particular intensity and density. This intensity, in typical gothic fashion, forms an affective atmosphere of impending violence. A colonial trauma bringing forward the proximity of a third world landscape, reinscribing a race-class analysis that connects the global south with antagonisms in Britain. This seems to be working against current ideas of race and identity which are increasingly defined by ones proximity to Britishness and normative conceptions of identity.

 

The aesthetic work put-in runs along the icy lines of embodiment and disembodiment. A bounded embodiment is shown throughout his live performance, visual focus on the body/face and interest in fashion, something he’s followed through with his fashion label Armour in Heaven. This textilic and tactile materiality is set against a disembodiment engendered through the overproduction of voice in his music. This voice triggers a sense of history, historicity even, like channeling a ghostly transmission of The Spaceape’s poetics of force. There is religiosity at play. The dedication to the memory of Gaika’s father furthers this idea of history and dis/embodiment. His announcement note reading: ‘We live in turbulent times. I hope this work inspires those in search of a better world. This is dedicated to my Father. Dad, I put the reggae song on’.

 

 

 

The force of history Gaika is channeling a reinscription produced through the aesthetic labour that undergirds and maps the Gaika project. The question in contention would remain in how this aesthetic critique can reproduce and manifest a socio-political prospering within – or after – the degeneration of an urban masculinity endemic in ‘immigrant sons’. Or put another way is there a critical transformation of social form at play here amidst the aesthetics of desolation. 

 

 

Notes on Lotic, ‘Power’

For my first blog post proper I’m posting a few quick notes on Lotic’s new album Power. This may be the start of a series of shorter reviews/sketches/notes. Let’s see. 

Following Lotic’s work you’re struck by the movement of desire, and the uncoercive rearrangement thereof (Spivak, 2012); in a permeable drive entangled with identity, though not reducible to it. Angular, disjointed, their latest offering Power certainly continues in their strain of electronic music, though there is a softer vulnerability elicited in the opener ‘Love and Light’.

Lotic’s entry of their voice lends itself to a greater intensity of violence and vulnerability, something which Arca has also been developing in parallel. ‘Hunted’ in its whispering undertone, ‘Heart’ wispy and bare, ‘Nerve’ willful. The voice adds to this stillness and knowingness played through in the instrumental title track ‘Power’, a kind of out-of-placeness pre-loaded breaking-down in ‘The Warp and the Weft’. An instrumentalisation of the reanimated ‘phantom limb’, as writer Wilson Harris has formulated.

And yet Power enters an architectural metaphorical spacing that inhabits Lotic’s interplay between audio mix, club performance and track-driven timing. This contributes to an aesthetic environment overlaid between the cinematic and visceral. The overlaying I understand as a kind of response and refraction of the overdetermination of space and time of the contemporary. While this is clearly in conflict with racialisation and gendering, the affective drive found, for instance, in the crackled horns ‘Resilience’ generates this aesthetic mapping of desire for something like freedom, or just the inhabitation of space itself.

This resonates with the haunted motion of closer ‘Solace’, the closing of work-done. Its signifying-power epitomised in the double-image of the cover portrait. The double-play of visage/image eliciting a synaesthetic ‘phonic materiality’ (Fred Moten, 2003), a stylisation of form overlaying the movement of desire.

Image result for lotic powerImage result for lotic power

References:

Moten, Fred, ‘Resistance of the Object: Aunt Hester’s Scream’, In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (University of Minnesota Press, 2003)

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, ‘Introduction’, An Aesthetic Education in the Age of Education (Harvard UP, 2012)

 

scattered reports on black art and iconographs

Originally published on Southern Discomfort Zine (15/1/2018)

 

A disjunctive genealogy, some conjectures into the state of things. Reinscribed remembrances, no flag-waving exercises though.

I retro sweeps

A couple of retro sweeps swaying in the winds. Soul of A Nation a big-hitter. Abstraction, multimedia, sculpture, traced out through geographical scenes. Tate’s white walls. Industrial history.

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Romare Bearden Pittsburgh Memory 1964

Basquiat capturing all. Textures doubling, social immanence, colours the street onto canvas, the musicality seeping out reifying scenes of NY institutionality. The prehistory of/in the canvas. Never trust the sovereign [curator].

basquiat
Basquiat, Untitled 1982

II Established abstraction to film to planetary / multimedia narration

Established abstraction played out with black Atlantan Frank Bowling, from Soul to a solo London Fishes, Wishes in Summer Blue (companion-NY-exhibition-took-place-simultaneous [Metropolitanblooms]). landscaped visions against shoreditch facades. And in that visionary planetarity a prefiguring already in that prehistoric predicament – the colour before / facing /

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Frank Bowling

Akomfrah purple vigenettes shades of

                                      Jarman blue screen multi-channeled

                                                             Industrialised reproduction / dystopic worldings

 

image1

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Akomfrah, Purple

 

Keith Piper’s encoded research

Video variants on cultural critique                                        — xx

 

 

                                               Arthur Jafa snippets archived network                                                                                                                                                                   (‘Love is the message and the message is death’)                                                                                Digital interfaces textilic arrangement                                                                                    

                                                Embodiment cut and undercut notorious and harlem                                      Sages gurus sants auric tremblings avatar-ic historicity

                                              Cut along the strand, desertions beached                                                                                                                                                

                                                                                                           (‘Everything at once’ was said)

 

III Future [transmedia]

Hannah Black’s ‘situation’

                                    //Shredded sociality [‘Some Context’]

image13

 

Kudzanai- Violet Hwami – fine art played through the digital
Processed — reprocessed  
                   montage layed over
                                          emphasised embodiment                       social image ~~~ reinscribed           

                                   figuration on the white wall / baker street shopping bustle coffee cups

 

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Kudzanai-Violet Hwami 2017

image2image11

 

 

IV Iconographs

Elysia Crampton
Aymara desedimentations
Lectured rhythms cut-and-paste

Specified matrilineal flowed out
transmedia
Iconographic pre-histories

 

Dadi – repository
Icons and images strewn and collected
A deep-set aleatory archetype
                             //animating animinsm
crumbling visages deft tales in hanuman’s grasp

                                   //A [pre]-historical glimpse colouring the dormant
                                   scattering scalability
                                   transference inferred ~~

image10image18

image9

 

Photos by Anuka Ramischwili-Schafer and myself

Making History/histories-being-made: Mourinho – Ronaldo – Príncipe Discos

Originally published on Southern Discomfort Zine (12/9/2016)

[Note: Three pieces accumulated with an imperial thread: Jose Mourinho’s dramatics, Cristiano Ronaldo’s glory, Lisbon record label Príncipe Discos’ differed modulations]

I

The contingent played out, playing on. Jose Mourinho an icon at the end of history – the ‘special one’ and his latent (post)modernist ideas of the Chelsea family – corporatism borne from the impasses of a Portuguese modernist modulation. Mourinho descended from the social base of a fascism nonetheless. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves

jose-chopper

 

Where does a story begin? Was it when Roman was flying on helicopter enamoured with Stamford Bridge, White Hart Lane forgone? Was it Monaco and Hugo Ibarra’s fucking hand

Ranieri Zola Hasselbaink Desailly out / Drogba Robben Carvalho Mourinho in?

Was it 1992 and the establishment of the Premiership?
Finance rolling in, New Labour fulfilling the Thatcherite dream. Maybe it was Ken Bates and his electric fence – headhunters spectralised.

And its these hauntings, the speckled of the violence at the beginning, the irretrievable violence of the forming of our financialised, hyper-circulated sociality. The violence of inauguration and through those silent species: Chelsea ‘has no history’. West Ham the flip-side; honest working club. Honest local boy Frankie Lampard Jr. corrupted by Tory blue finance-rich Chelsea, right? (We’ll see what Stratford’s gotta say about that, haunted by Anish Kapoor’s towering inadequity).


But that’s Roman’s Empire. Success without history, without narration. Within Post-Soviet space ‘cosmopolitan’ capital deterritorialising (Usmanov, Ivanishvili, Venky’s, Singha etc.)– we’ve got the best league in the world for a reason – commodification of diversity. But commodities can speak, labour speaks, plays. Week-in-week-out.
And our passions toll to the rhythm, transgressing the simplicities of ‘pure ideology’. Within, against, and out. Escape.

Desire, instinct, skill, power, communication, tactics, strategy, style, passion

Critical theory never knew a better partner

Its acceleration, intensity, sublime temporalised into 90 minutes along green territorialising topographies. The club as kin(g) rings true. Unsovereign, subcultural, subaltern, fascist. Mass a difficult bunch, dirty, infectious, splitting ends.
And it all ends in Munich, with Di Mateo’s beaming face and Drogba’s verbose performance, speaking in, through, and out. Riefenstahl move aside. History being made. Through the codification of a trophy won, social life as irreducibility bubbles below. Cos its all about Chelsea being racist actually. Tired attempts to narrativise phenomena beyond the grasp of ‘think-pieces’ and sardonic cultural criticism, circulation and recirculation making – breaking – as raw desire is translated to public interest. But commodities can play.

dimatteotrophy_ap
Subterranean myths bearing out through chants, sedimented in re-presentations. Far beyond chronologies and public uses of finger-pointing ‘racist’ ‘sexist’. Reasoned arrogance, step aside bitte. History made and made again, produced and reproduced and failed subjects, failing at coherence, failing at politics, failing at becoming failing at codifying experience ‘speak for a moment’, circulating irreducible social forms beneath the market. Re-circulation as revolution. (Hobbes) Retrograde Copernicanism, Cruyffian totalities.
Total football, total late capital, total topographies disseminating the spirit
Recurrence as spectres return, spirit reassembled. Football as total contingency, determined continually to lose, post-war English through and through. And its Mourinho and Franco’s Furio, Van Gaal usurped, Guardiola in the wings, Wengerian banality

cruyff_turn-large_transnsmkfrkrkipwvipd9zwhtfeztrrnor_gbeaju43rwum

02-spain-211

 

II
Myths of Zidane, the Kabyle,  Sufi away from (ab)original, badawi
Mourinho, the Fascist and the Late Capitalist

We all start somewhere: Sat immersed in settee, spit flying HD. Zinedine’s sinews stretched, A 21st Century Portrait, its glossy animation of limbs articulated, wings jerking against Kantian clippings, imagining bodies beyond rusting imperial metropoles and their hematological-surplus, indebted the bare play, lifeblood and labour selling but not with full intent, inscriptions on the walls, piss dribbling, quotidian droll, and its footie! But the bits aint for show. Immediates ungraspable.

 

III


The myths run on.
The Portuguese did it.
The Africans it were,
diasporic warriors of a yester-
year you might say.
The French did it before of course,
Arabs and Africans,
this time round not quite.

And it was Cristiano Ronaldo’s show,
his eventual absence
spiriting the scuffling climax.
Traces of Cape Verde through
Madeira culturally trading-up with the black-
hybrids, postcolonials of another vanished era
Angola Mozambique Guinea-Buissau Sao Tome
and Principe peppered along
Ronaldo’s rippling body
stretching into moulding sovereignties,
Renato Sanches William Carvalho
Nani Ricardo Quaresma Pepe
Eliseu Joao Mario Danilo Eder, The Empire Strikes Back…

gilroy

 

What does this kind of juxtaposition in motion really inscribe,
where do we locate the bodily indulgence,
the passion of decomposition,
the beautiful game turned into the dirty great game
Ronaldo as world-historical icon
We were black radicals once, original hybrids
Originary facticity, literary utopia an image escaping away
IV

jose_mourinho2_1626709cCFT164 00797 001_59726457_por_salazar_reviews_troops_jose5leniriefenstahltriumphofthewill
So what does it mean when Jose Mourinho once grandly declared: ‘We are the Portuguese community’, the dark heart of the Thames spilling sweat. Louis XIV, of course, said about the same. Corporatist to the bone, his wife a Portuguese settler in Angola fled to acceleratingly-capitalist West London. Love/Hate don’t seem to do it justice. Neither does political denouncements. The invisibility of market rationale, or should we say Abramovich, Buck, Arsenon, Zahavi’s web of intransigence marking a juncture of sorts. Social life irreducible, right? What does that mean for Post-Communist stalwart Roman and Post-Fascist tactician Mourinho.

“Post-colonial Ronaldo”? Perhaps
V

stamps_of_germany_ddr_1978_minr_2293


And somewhere below the sovereign, a dancefloor.

“As to strategy, we learned in the struggle; some people think that we adopted a foreign method, or something like this. Our principle is that each people have to create its own struggle. Naturally, we have something to learn from the experience that can be adapted to the real situation of the country. But we bettered our struggle in the culture of our people, in the realities of our country, historical, economical, cultural, etc, and we developed the struggle, supported by our people which is the first and main condition: the support of the people.”

Amílcar Cabral
Principe Discos, a label, a movement slowly emerging out of Lisbon’s African estates, fast heady fizzing meditative abstracting black atlantic sound – Zouk Kizomba Kuduro RnB house all mediated against the background of culturalising global capital, a little enclave an overview could never do justice – in some of their own words:
“PRÍNCIPE is a record label based in Lisbon, Portugal.
It is fully dedicated to releasing 100% real contemporary dance music coming out of this city, its suburbs, projects & slums. New sounds, forms and structures with their own set of poetics and cultural identity.”

 

VI
So into the industrial beast we go, up into personified grief, Mancunian malcontents marauding – Pep and Jose. Managers and philosophers. Commodities and culture. The cotton millers residually dominant, virtually total. Cutting both ways, and cutting something out. The myths of victory archaic and the future critically written out the mouths of serious veritable football journos. Europe splintering, capital gesturing the siege. The siege of Lisbon as the siege in viewership, pubs all round, the siege slipping out, possible passions and critical intent.

Gods walk this earth, and they lose.

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220px-kali_by_raja_ravi_varma

 

VII [adze]
there is the fullness of ronaldo’s body and your disparate, ‘peppering’ words… maybe i am looking for more body? but maybe wanting to look for that body — a gathering up of ronaldo’s HD bodybuilding montage adverts — maybe that wanting is the space emanating from your writing (on page 2)

like, i almost want it to start with page 5 (/but commodities can play/, Recurrence as spectres return, spirit reassembled (beautiful!!)) and reorder the text… but surely i am wrong

general vibe:

a peppering of families, splintered into muscular separate bodies, shot down by bullets of dollar bills, strewn across a burning football pitch that is europe: resembling plastic bags billowing across the astroturf— is it a ball or is it rubbish, it is maurinho’s head, can you feel the beating of Roman’s helicopter, the beating around and out that is principe?

❤ ❤ beautiful.

 

VIII [disorient]

its always difficult to comment critically – maybe for the end you need to go to Lisbon in more depth – your journey, experience of the music, the dancefloor/club, –the empire striking back on Mourino’s homeland etc… Mourino going north of england — to the heart of the industrial empire — not sure — Portugal the in/out/ of europe, the place where is it all really comes home, on the edge, multiculture— no future of capital etc…capital to a different history, an outside inside europe…. just thinking aloud…. i think only needs a couple of more paras…