visible roots left in the ground > < follow up for the tree
tabla tabla strings and vocals >
a call to recent studies >
video description: set to another Lollywood classic, this short clip splits the screen into two separate panels. Each one follows the camera movement from dead roots laid in the grass upward to a living tree and then up again to the blue sky – the movement is from grey decay to lush green and blue life. As the intro to the song finishes and the first vocal is about to drop in, the image pauses for a brief moment…two tabla-like images appear side to side. Both are rotating circles with an inner circle of a blackened wood texture, made to appear like the syahi, the central point of the tabla skin. Both rotating circles give the sense of vinyl records being played, with the outer ring on both circles featuring two distinct family images. One is of my two grandfathers sternly sizing each other up. The other is of my grandmother and her best friend sizing up the camera. As the song continues and fades out, the images are taken away by a burning line across the screen.
I was going to post my voice notes that I made to capture a tone I needed in the work I am making but actually, I dont want to share these with anyone until I am ready so I am not posting them all but Ill post one.
Im using my voice notes to try and process my feelings
A British conceptual and installation artist born in Ilford.
Landy is best known for Break Down, a performance piece where he categorically destroyed all of his possessions in a disused C&A on Oxford St. It has been widely read as a critique of consumerism, following on from early work of his that overtly criticises a growing consumerist ethic. I think the work contains an inner dimension that allows for a deep denial of materiality (not just material), making it spiritual and ascetic. The work was visceral and emotional for Landy.
After ‘Break Down’ he took a hiatus from making art before returning with Semi-detached. The latter is a lesser known work of his but I find it conceptually important that after destroying all of his possessions that he felt the need to recreate his home. This house is such a ubiquitous image in Ilford and witnessing it in the gallery space gives me mixed feelings. In some ways, the work seems to be a direct discussion about the area, home and Landy’s personal history. Mobilising the aesthetic feels representative. The work engages in a kind of elevation of normality. An edification of all of the processes of house-building: window fitting, door framing, coving, roofing etc. While obviously not unique to Ilford, this building is a complete replica that brings Ilford into the gallery space and it makes the address in Ilford another site of the work.
In other ways, the work misses an opportunity to have a discussion about how dynamic Ilford is as an area. The focus is on a frozen moment in the artists history and does not engage more widely in the creation of place. The neighbours, the local supermarket, the high street, the bus stop, the local park. These aspects of home-place-making are all conspicuously absent from the work.
Anyway, the work is actually all about Landy’s dad who was confined to the house after a mining accident in 1976. It’s about his father’s incapacitation and a reflection of working class conditions in 1970s Britain. So of course, it isn’t about Ilford at all neither elevating its normality nor missing its dynamism but keeping a focus on the father-figure. In some ways, Landy’s work is about ancestry and those who have come before. The excerpt from a Guardian interview with the artist below strings together the relationship between Break Down and Semi-detatchced.
“One object that Landy didn’t destroy until right at the end, which went round and round the conveyor like an unclaimed suitcase, was a big old sheepskin jacket – his dad’s. “My mother had bought it on credit just before he had his industrial accident. After that, it became too heavy for him to wear any more. She still had to pay it off. In a sense, this sheepskin coat became him, travelling around on this yellow tray…Landy later made a significant work about his dad, Semi-detached, in which a precise replica of his parents’ Ilford semi was erected in Tate Britain’s Duveen Galleries in 2004. It was the sort of emotionally loaded artwork he couldn’t have imagined making before Break Down. “I was interested in my dad’s value as a human being. What’s rubbish? What’s a weed? Why is my dad a total wreck case? That’s what preoccupies me.””
Most recently Landy has been making work about Essex, the county of his and my own birth. Reviled as the capital of countries nouveau-riche, Landy documents the nations view of Essex in his 2021 exhibition Welcome to Essex at the Firstsite Gallery in Colchester. His archive Essexism turns the mirror on a liberal-metropolitan elite who have written about the rise of Essex as a kind of phenomenon. It shows them as frightened of the emergence of a new kind of middle class who do not seek the sanctified sophistication of upper-crust England but use their wealth to adorn themselves while otherwise staying authentic in speech, action and style. While the classism is a clear issue tackled in the work so is the accompanying misogyny.
The construction of the ‘Essex girl’ has been used as a way to demonise young women and label them ‘stupid’ for seeking different kinds of mobility. In the accompanying documentary, Landy meets superstar businesswoman, Amy Childs, who it turns out is his first cousin once removed. He makes a point about their similarity and even uses products of hers in his exhibition as part of the archive.
The work feels authentic, political and as described by Landy himself iconoclastic. I appreciate that he includes his mother in the documentary work, that he explores spaces he knew as a child and that he admits how ignorant he was about Essex throughout most of his life. I feel inspired by how genuine he seems and through reading about his life and work I take away the following lesson:
bringing the family into the frame, forgoing the material, seeking something of home,
Ive been writing the new draft of the script which currently is aweful but slowly is coming togther. I definitely think writing in an episodic way will let me get a better idea of the pacing and how to do the story.
anyway have a read
Sepp : Hey…looks like it’s just us.
June : Looks like it (giggles)
Sepp : Did you enjoy the ceremony?
June : Hahha fuck no… these traditional meetings feel empty to me especially as they never include me.
Sepp : Yeah…I know…they are wrong for that…you should definitely be front and center
June : front and center? I don’t think I want to be verified to that extent.
Sepp : well Maybe It would make me pay attention a little more …closely
June: ….oh and why would that make you pay a little more attention
Their bodies are closer now, almost touching. Almost breathing on each other.
The sky cracks in half as the long forgotten voice of a lost GOD returns to earth.
The air began to resonate as it shifted through the atmosphere of carbon nitrogen and oxygen. The make up of life changed unbeknownst to anyone.
June : What the fuck was that?
Sepp : (covering her head) Jesus sounds like the whole sky exploded.
June is already running to a window. There are a lot of murmurs in the bar.
June looks out the window but sees nothing
A few others who were in the room have also run to the window.
No one says anything as they stare transfixed outside.
Sepp : (after catching up) Do you see anything?
Sepp comes close to them and holds their arm. It’s the first time they have touched all evening
June : (wrapping her arm under the waist of Sepp) No…but I feel like…(they look at Sepp and notice the anxiety on their face)…Hey are you ok?
The air was charged. Like a thick soup of static. As the voice wrapped itself around the planet and began to touch the ground the static rose on the skin of their backs.
June’s hair was floating as though she was submerged in water.
Everyone looked at her but their hair remained normal.
A buzzing sound could faity be heard.
June : It feels like I’m surrounded by electricity (they stop and listen)…can you..(they listen again)…do you hear something?
The buzzing sound gets louder.
Sepp : Let’s get away from the window.
The buzzing sound can be heard by everyone now. Although it had begun as an auditory experience, its frequency had begun to resonate within their bodies.
June sinks to the floor feeling a wave of nausea as their organs shake with the sound
June : Sepp I…I…
A pulse shook through the ground.
Sepp falls to the ground beside june.
The two bury their heads into each other’s shoulders.
They scream in unison as they expect the building they are in to fall in on them.
And then suddenly
June: Are you still here…
Sepp: I’m with you…im with you
Their heads rise to meet each others gaze.
They are only an inch apart
The other members in the room are all standing against the walls as if the pulse had not been felt by them.
Their gaze fixed on the two holding on to each other
They watch them in silence.
June : Sepp…
Sepp leans in whispering
Sepp : Don’t leave me tonight
A radio is playing in a bedroom with june asleep in bed.
Whats more sensible religion or atheism
Radio : ….and surely No one was able to sleep in such a painfully traumatic freak weather event, a phase of extraordinary awe full weather.
Call in person: I called the next morning as I was due to go into surgery and now I’ve been told I need to rebook, and rebook means I loose 100 percent of the amount we paid for…
Radio Host: …but you surely know that they don’t want to operate on you if this could happen again…it is disgusting however that you have to repay for…
Call in person : My surgery is life saving…there is no other date…I don’t have that time….unless i go to a private surgery…which is what we have to do now and that’s going to cost me everything, I want to go to small claims….
Radio : look if you went to the hearing I am not sure you would win I’m afraid and that’s all the time we have for you… our next caller says they have some background info into this freak weather….Hi Lady Da
Call in perso :…Don’t say it…not you…not yet not every…
Radio Host :…okay
Lady Da : The Fabric of The earth has changed
Radio Host : oh hear we go
Lady Da: from small wood to the largest group It will grow and those that don’t grow with it….wont grow at all
Radio Host : ok….so Sometime we get people like you and I am half tourn if we give you air time or not…i mean the rating love…..
Sepp walks into the room fully dressed
Sepp : Hey wake up….we overslept
June : mmmmmmmmhmm…
Sepp : Get up please I need to go now
June : Just go without me….i leave later
Sepp : No I don’t want to do that June
June : Ugh why not….
Sepp : Did you forget my name….
June : (June blushed) …There were a lot of names at the ceremony…and I was talking more to your other ….lips…
Sepp : Oh….Shut up (giggle) look we have to go right now…I’m sorry you need to leave
June : What tine is it
Sepp : Go
June : (annoyed) What? Ok why are your being so rude…what’s going on.
Your suddenly asking me to leave out of no where…
Sepp : I can explain….
June : wait…hold up…explain…oh no
June gets up and starts to put on clothes
Sepp : look we can talk late..
June : fuck you
Sepp : its not THAT…ITS not June look at e
June : It’s not WHAT?….It’s fine you just wanted to try out….i get it…come one June why did you think this bitch would even be
Sepp looks outside the window
Sepp looks through the window
June : If you wanted to try it why did you have to do it with ne…COME ON JUNE
Sepp : June…
June : I want you to listen…This is
Sepp opens the curtains
The vision of a inverted atmosphere meets them
June : HOLY FUCK…..
Sepp : Do you feel that?
June : That pull?
Sepp : What…No…It’s like a
June : WHy is the sun….Black
The door slams shut and footsteps approach the door
June is on their way to the bus stop. It’s busy, everyone is outside. All work and schools have been shut due to the dangerous weather.
June is on the phone with a cordless headset
It’s very early
It calls and first goes to voice mail
June : Ah fuck come o pick up
No one picks up.
June : Alone again…what the fuck did you expects…you deserve
The phone rings
June : hello
Pussydon (through the phone): …hey are you ok…its 5 in the morning…
June : its an emergency…
Pussydon :…ummm….What do you neeed?
June : I mean…ok there are two
Pussydon : Bitch you know Ive just gotten up and the only emergency I can think is about you late night date with the Lady from the ceremony
June : Have you looked outside?
Pussydon : Don’t hold out on me with this mess…I need to
June : Just open the window…
Pussydon : Ok, If i do it slow enough maybe you’ll be able to tell me what happened with whoever she was
June : I…It was bad…
June: She…I dont know…she was just…using me
Pussydon: sooo… it was a one night stand?
June: Yeah….until her man came home
Pussydon : What….in the act? Oh my god
June: No no. In the morning I mean look at the time its fucking 9 am…he came home because of the whats goin on…i mean BABE LOOK OUT SIDE
Pussydon: Okay okay..but are you ok?
June: Im…ok…I just feel that this will always happen like whenever i think a girl is really interested something is always fucked up…im so tired of being alone…like are we
Pussydon: Holy fuck…JUNE what happened?
June: What im telling you….
Pussydon: THE SUN IS BLACK!
June: Oh….yes I told you…
Pussydon: …its true…(overlapping)
June:…this happened last night you didnt feel the shake?…and wait whats true
Pussydon: COme over….now
June: I am gonna go home I need to call my mum
Pussydon: I need you to come here
Pussydon: Look when you come illl explain
->go to Pussydon’s
->go to Pussydons
On the way to Pussydons june listens to the ending of the radio show
What is more sensible- a show that discusses the reason why one way of living may be more sensible then another.
The current discussion is weather it is healthier to believe in spiritual significance or if logical thinking is a healthy approach to unexplained supernatural phenomenon
Around 2 mind into it they leave the bus and take off their head phones and walk towards Pussydons house
They turn the corners and walk towards
There is a bunch of people outside of the house of pussydon
June takes her headphones off
The crowd are visibility animated and pointing down the road
Following their finger it seems as though they were pinting to wards the trees in the distance
The trees linger in the distance staring back
A light glow can be seen in the forest
As though a fire burnt in the branches
June reaches the group
June : Hey…hey…what’s going on?
Random people : we are going now….you know….you know…ok
Pussydon watches them leave eyes locked on
Something else had been left in their place that seems so much bigger
June: what’s that all about…
Pussydon: We gotta go…walk and talk
June:…what’s up girl
Pussydon: I mean I don’t know how to say it…something is in the forest
Pussydon: soemthing that wasn’t there but is now
June: You’re being way too cryptic
Scene starts with a radio show presenting the facts of the day
The sound of a scene of commotion can be heard over the commentator who are processing the scene. Sirens and shouts often pierce the reporters voice. They are having a hard time dealing with it and keeping a composure (when an Abuser makes you act as though nothing is happening)
Reporter: I am reporting from the edge of the forest which id being coordined off as I speak. (Hard swallow) For the good of us…for our good I am told to say that…everything is fine. Some of my early panicked news reports were my fault…its my fault…i am sorry….sorry…illl do better… (muffles)
It’s believed that there could be some form of contaminate in within the forest. Something that wasn’t there before, somethings that should not be there….
My co-star REVEN Gnorw will report from the helicopter. Hi REVEN…what are you skiing
The loud sound of the helicopter fights with the reporter
Raven : Hey all, looking from above we have a visual on something obscured by the trees. It’s glowing its…oh god I wish you could explain this to me…they are slowly cutting away the branches and….revealing more of it and….its….
the footage is taken from one mountain spring in the Harz >
suddenly any place where the water flows is a place I can imbibe with a sense of home/belonging >
bodies of water as liminal spots of belonging >
this work draws its title from lyrics in Mark of my Departure >
it is meant tobe funny >
video description: set to a classic Lollywood tune this video juxtaposes different images of flowing water in different shaped frames. The frames are sometimes overlapping, sometimes slowly elongating and are synchronised to reflect moments in the musical journey. The water is flowing from a small stream across grey-brown rocks flanked by some greenery and soft moss. The water is clear and the flow is strong.
As the beat drops and the tabla comes into full swing, two circular images are seen rotating on the screen. The two images are in the same style and both created in the same way. On the left is an image of my grandfather, reading a newspaper, looking away from the camera. His image is framed by a circular photograph of a chopped tree trunk. Using the same method, the image on the right has the chopped tree trunk frame with an image of my father and his brothers in it, all sporting the wild 1970s style of facial and head hair. The two images rotate continuously in the style of old vinyl before slowly fading out.
these are my two grandfathers surveying each other
my grandmother and her best friend
MADE THE SYAHI
Using the image of the chopped down tree stumps, I fashioned the syahi for these tabla’d images, making the symbol of dislocation the central point of attention. Reversing the process from the previous studies, trying to be more direct in the tabla reference and combing through the family pictures. This process has reminded me that so much of this work is about building an archive for/of the family that reconnects the ancestral lineage severed by dislocation.
Noor Jehan is an icon > singer of over 10,000 recorded songs > first female Pakistani film director in 1951 > affectionately known as the Queen of Melody >
Below you can hear Noor Jehan singing ‘Lal meri pat’ >
Lal meri Pat is the original version of the song that venerates the saint Lal Shahbaz Qalander > it brings the research out from the mystic 12th century reaches > out also from the Afro-South Asian connections > straight to Lollywood >
Pakistan’s film industry set up in Lahore has its own heroes and history > if interested > this podcast has been a joy to listen to >
I’ve been blaring these songs in my room and in my headphones on the go >
I’ve been paying attention to the way these videos are shot and edited >
I’ve enjoyed the sharp, deliberate, on-beat chopping >
All work on my profile is orbiting this piece right here
These are the opening liner notes for MOMD. There are two images. They both share the same style; a black roti-textured background with bright pink text. On the first image, the text cascades down and reads ‘mark of my departure’ with each word in a different font. In the middle, across the cascade are the letters MOMD emblazoned large.
The second image has the same large MOMD across the middle. Above it is the track list. Which reads as follows:
mark one: water mark two: melanogenesis mark three: in the bazaar mark four: ilford lane mark five: be you
Underneath is a body of text that reads as follows:
MOMD produced, arranged and entirely composed by Allah SWT
features include Nusrat and company, the Chapparrals, whoever recorded that tabla loop, some random heads, Mufti Menk and that hilarious kid, Hamza Mohammed Beg and everyone who has ever interacted with us.
In the name of Allah the gracious and the merciful
I am greeted at the archway of my own work, stepping into it for the first time, hearing my voice drowned in the divine. All voices are dripping with it.
MOMD is a parting letter but I do not know to whom nor do I know where I am leaving to.
Those whom you guide none can misguide and those whom you misguide none can guide.
All of my research, writing and creative work for this program is trying to understand and expand on this that tumbled out of me >>>>>
Fascinated (as an outsider), proud (as an insider) of how this/my culture can infuse prayer, dance and music into ritual. I use this visual in Mark of my Departure to bring up a sense of collective ecstatic spirituality and straightforward party vibes.
The visual alone is full of such absurdity and humour; I love the ageing baba having money thrown at him, the dancing kids doing some ubiquitous skanking < maybe the key here is how intergenerational the celebration is?
The people they party to venerate the saint, Lal Shahbaz Qalander.
So much of my own practice is informed by techniques used and made popular by hip hop > sampling, chopping, rapping > somehow this video feels like it has every aspect of a classic early 2000s hip hop video and therein lies the appeal of the visual > it’s a kind of indirect nostalgia > I can access this image of my collective ancestral culture through my individual nostalgia for early 2000s hip hop < displacement is strange
South Asian culture (and cultural artifacts) have a relationship with hip hop that is everywhere to see but not many places to fully understand. My own work tries to explore that relationship. Famous hip-hop producers have lent on South Asian culture to give their music some flair, some essentialised but deliciously addictive vocal chops and catchy melodies < that’s only one aspect of this cultural exchange >
Here is the briefest non-chronological history of South Asian samples in mainstream hip-hop production from the early 2000s.that I can remember
I’m writing as I research and have just come across the work of Professor Elliot Powell. Phew. Elliot Powell is doing the work!
“His first book Sounds from the Other Side: Afro-South Asian Collaborations in Black Popular Music (University of Minnesota Press, 2020), brings together critical race, feminist, and queer theories to consider the political implications of African American and South Asian collaborative music-making practices in US-based Black Popular Music since the 1960s. In particular, the project investigates these cross-cultural exchanges in relation to larger global and domestic sociohistorical junctures that linked African American and South Asian diasporic communities, and argues that these Afro-South Asian cultural productions constitute dynamic, complex, and at times contradictory sites of comparative racialization, transformative gender and queer politics, and anti-imperial political alliances.”
Powell charts the link between the lamenting lines of Asha Bhosle (sampled by Just Blaze) and the flippant response from rapper Erik Sermon. The sampling of South Asian music seems to fall into what Powell describes as an early 2000s Indo-chic. The ‘Indian’ aesthetic is utilitzed widely and carelessly to point to a sense of the exotic or oriental. This seems nowhere more evident than in the translation of the sample for the club-ready party hit ‘React’.
“The verse, sung by Asha Bhosle, can be loosely translated as, “If someone has a fondness for suicide, what can one do?,” to which Sermon responds, “Whateva’ she said, then I’m that.”” < Elliot Powell
While Powell suggests that the White orientalist gaze has to be decoupled from the African-American orientalist gaze he still substantiates these critiques. Powell recognises some of the problems.
Of course it has problems.
Using the female-presenting body and voice as an essentialising tool while also minimizing/invisibilizing the labour of the South Asian body < exoticising, homogenising etc etc > Marking South Asian culture as an empty form > a type of commodity that has to have its meaning by-passed because of its illegibility “whateva she said, then I’m that, if this here rocks to y’all then react!”
Powell does not deny these critiques but does complicate them.
He does so by recounting the fact that a year before the release of React, Erick Sermon himself had an alleged suicide attempt.
Powell notes how difficult it was for him to admit it and how he had dissociated from the events that left him in the hospital recovering from various wounds.
One year later, Erick Sermon and Redman are hanging out at the studio and Redman plays a CD of Just Blaze beats. Erick Sermon feels that he doesn’t have a big single on his upcoming album.
There was no conversation between producer and emcee, Erick Sermon just heard the beat and decided that it was the one.
He was immediately struck by it and the next time producer Just Blaze heard the song, it was already a smash hit on the radio.
Powell invokes queer theory and cites this as an example of ‘queer temporalities’, conversations caught between time, unwittingly had, unknowingly needed.
“In the field of rap, I’m superb, I’m fly I should be in the sky with birds” Erick Sermon, React
MAIN THREAD RETRIEVED!
Long time-ways from the 12th century sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalander.
But perhaps not > Lal was also known to be ‘fly, in the sky with birds’.
Here is a closing anthem from Qawwali singer Faiz Ali Faiz in homage to the legend Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan who is being readied for further research. The image below shows a flying Laal Shahbaz Qalander who is often likened to a red falcon.
The story of 12th century saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar is on pause but set to continue > it’s an incredible story of syncretic religious traditions, long-lasting spiritual practices and it is our link to Amir Khusro < famous South Asian poet and inventor of the tabla > it is our link also to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and straight through to the heart of the South Asia diaspora.
The tabla remains an image, a motif of dislocation for me. When I experience others playing it with such verve and knowledge I am transported. I find the rhythms intoxicating and the sounds to be full and complete in their expression.
As a vocalist, I hear a quiet challenge. Can I speak over these rhythms? Would it be an act of magical place-making? Magical relocating of the unrooted postcolonial body? Am I returning forward? Am I just traveling the planes of my Western privilege and taking without knowing?
These are specific folk rhythms with their own long histories of which I am coolly unaware. These sounds are not mine.
The tabla is the first musical instrument I have any memory of. Sitting in the corner of my aunties house. These sounds are also mine.
Should I simply let it sit in my ears and enjoy it as I do. That for now is the only certainty.
Hey, I’m Hamza welcome to my studio. I’m a self-taught multimedia artist and researcher. I’m an able-bodied male-conditioned, postcolonial person. My work is informed by continuous conversations with the people I love as much as any reading, listening and observing.
I’m using this residency to resume an investigation I started some time ago (before getting distracted by another project). Mark of My Departure (MOMD) is preoccupied with the South Asian diasporic experience. The centerpiece of the work is a 7 minute visual collage set to an original composition.
I will use the time afforded to me in the residency to continue the collection and tessellation of related postcolonial images and ideas. I am aiming to produce a supporting body of work so that the video is held within an expanded context.
When you step into my studio, you should smell my aunties homemade garam masala slowly infusing into fried onions on the stovetop. Poke around the work you find and if you have any questions or comments do not hesitate to leave them in the comments section.
HOMECOMING means allot to me. Each time I take it to a new space I am reminded of it’s importance, power and need for shared honest dialogues among strangers.
Above is an image of part of a wall inside DNA space in Folkstone. DNA space is the venue for this latest iteration of the project’s social experiment. The image reads multiple different contributions from the general public in Folkstone to the same question which has been asked since the beginning of HOMECOMING in 2019… “What does home mean to you?“
This section alone crosses so many realities…
Sometimes with this work, you are forced to stop. There is no doubt that in the moment which this section was revealed, that is the only thing I could do.
Some of these contributions are overlapping. And here is what some of them say::
home is the sea, which is a graveyard
There are so many people in this town who will never see their families again. They are finding homes with each other, and they will be moved.
To be at home is to be relaxed.
But I still love this place, almost.
my mum works in a profession known for taking people away from their families, it’s more complicated then that.
That last one got me. I cried when we did the group reveal on Sunday 3rd July. It might of been the mention about mothers, or the fact that I felt like I understood what this contributor was saying – that they loved someone, a parent, but it hurt. Maybe I am projecting? Because truth be told there is no judgment in what they’ve said, only the statement explaining it.
Sometimes I’m reminded of the reason why I call this specific branch of HOMECOMING, Homecoming; A Placeless Place. To me, it is the social experiment that just keeps on giving.