My work stems from the desire, struggle, and failure to define identity as an American immigrant of South Asian Muslim origin, from the discomfort of straddling two worlds and belonging to neither. Across multiple mediums, I investigate identity, displacement, rupture; tension between personal narratives/nostalgias and collective historical memories, especially around the idea of “homeland”; constitution/disruption of the postcolonial self in a hyper-globalized diaspora; questions of cultural authenticity and representation. I also explore the socio-cultural and religious folklore/iconography I was raised with, complicated by the ambivalence/resistance to anthropomorphic representation within conservative Islamic practice. Formally, my work exists in the liminal intersection of documentary and fiction and is sourced from original footage and archival material, gathered in Los Angeles, where I live and work, and from travels over many years to India, Pakistan, Egypt, Tunisia, Saudia Arabia and beyond. I deploy collage and glitch to express the schisms and anomie I experience as a woman living between disparate moral and political realms. My graduate thesis at CalArts, which premiered at the Flaherty Film Seminar and also screened at TIFF and MOMA NY, was a short film comparing scientific and personal forms of archiving. For the last three years, I’ve been developing an experimental documentary exploring the animistic fringe sects of Sufism in rural Pakistan. In LA, I’ve been fortunate to galvanize a diasporic community as the founder of Discostan, a collective exploring media narratives from the MENASA (Middle East/North Africa/South Asia) region as expressed in its immigrant communities in the USA.
California Institute of the Arts, MFA in Film and Video with a concentration in New Media.
Northwestern University, BA in Comparative Literature & Spanish minor with honors.
fadeinfadeout, Analog Dissident, Los Angeles, CA. A site-specific exhibition oriented around sound, addressing issues of displacement curated by Jimena Sarno.
The Silent Parade, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. Soundscaped walk: field recordings, historical newscasts, music samples, altered field recordings.
The Psychedelic Islamic State, Los Angeles Islam Arts Initiative. Curated by Amitis Motevalli.
Centre Georges Pompidou.
Museum of Modern Art New York Tomorrowland.
University of California Irvine Global Visions.
Toronto International Film Festival Wavelengths Program.
International Flaherty Seminar.
Copenhagen International Documentary Festival.
Pacific Film Archive.
Awards and Fellowships
Montalvo Artist Residency Fellowship.
AIR New Voices Scholar.
LA Islam Arts Initiative/Department of Cultural Affairs Public Arts Grantee.
1. Discostan, Founder and Creative Director of Artist Collective. A monthly Los Angeles-based popup presenting music, performance and intervention of the Muslim diaspora, now in its fourth year.
2. USC Pakistan Arts Council, Auxiliary Board Member and Arts Curator.
Press, Interviews, and Publications
Culture Trip, “Discostan’s Mastermind Arshia Haq”, http://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/california/articles/meet-discostans-dj-mastermind-arshia-haq/.
Brown Book Dubai, Sound Feature.
Artbound KCET, “Place of Disco:The Republic of Discostan”, Gary Dauphin http://www.kcet.org/arts/artbound/counties/los-angeles/discostan-footsies-bar.html.
KCHUNG Radio, “Performance Now”, John Tain and Carol Cheh.
Good Magazine, “Discostan and the Psychedelic Islamic State”, http://magazine.good.is/articles/discostan-and-the-psychedelic-islamic-state.
LA Weekly, “Discostan: Music from Beirut to Bangkok via Bombay”.