Baseera Khan

Moving across prints, sculpture, installation, and performance, my practice draws from personal and politicized collective experiences as an Afghani/Indian-American queer femme. Through combining distinct and often mutually exclusive cultural references, I explore the alienation, displacement, assimilation, and fluidity that make up my own hybrid identity – my interest in exile and kinship. The resulting works investigate the limits of legibility by either contradicting the assumptions projected upon a Muslim, brown body through honoring my own intersectionality, or through refusing to be projected upon at all via concealment and abstraction. Reverential and heretical, the work reflects the complicated relationship I maintain towards identity.

These works sampled come from two large project installations, one entitled iamuslima, and the other entitled [Feat.      ]. Feat is a play on the word’s double meaning, an achievement that requires great courage, skill, or strength, as well as the culture of giving a shout-out to an artist featured in a song one can find on Spotify, or Soundcloud. These two projects mirror each other as iamuslima is an installation where I define my sovereignty, my landscape, my legacy, my terms of engagement, and the installation [Feat.     ] is where I find comfort, where my collective self fights for a safe place in America.

The installation of iamuslima comes together into several bodies of work. First, a pair of customized Nike Air Force Ones embroidered with the word “muslima”, an intentional misspelling that circumvents the corporate censorship of the word “Muslim” from the NIKEiD program. Not unlike the CDC’s recent controversy over words forbidden from financial documents, this sensitivity reveals a pervasive islamophobia underlying even the most banal forms of American culture. Working within these parameters I then own the identity of muslima for myself as a designation of both displacement and resistance.

The shoes are presented as part of a larger installation of books, which cite a lineage of radical activists such as Jean Genet and Frantz Fanon. Through this I am able to expand beyond the subaltern context identification politics may presume of me, allowing for a more expansive, and ultimately more specific frame of reference for understanding my practice. The books and shoes are situated inside of custom designed clear plexiglass shoe boxes with arabesque cut-outs. Like a storefront for high-end consumer culture – I use the aesthetic sensibilities to elicit the commercialized packaging of spirituality.

The space can be engaged with further through a series of silk Psychedelic Prayer Rugs, designed with religious and secular iconography and hand-made by artisans in Kashmir, India. Viewers are encouraged to take their own shoes off, leave them inside the stacked empty shoe boxes called Reading Room On Purpose, and perform the traditional salat, the daily prayers that constitute one of the five pillars of Islam. The five pillars are interpreted further in a series of five large screen-prints.

The Acoustic Sound Blankets are sculptures made of sound-dampening material that I have embroidered in gold with patterns passed down through generations of women in my family. As sculptures, they resemble burqa-covered bodies, slumped on the floor. I activate the sculptures through performances in which I transform the objects into intimate spaces to be huddled within; safe spaces I open to viewers in order for private exchanges to take place.

The Psychedelic Prayer Rugs and Acoustic Sound Blankets pointed me in the direction of an installation to share what my world looks like as I duck under the heavy sound insulated material. Calling this body of work [Feat.      ], three major features come out of this installation. One is footage of an acoustic sound blanket performance at the Fort Worth Modern in Texas. At the foot of the museum’s campus, a large Richard Serra sculpture is installed, I am filmed fighting and loving with Serra’s sculpture. For the first time as karaoke films, spliced with clips of a personal narrative—my nieces and nephews reciting the states of America, learned at school, in a makeshift fort – the films speak to my experiences of displacement and revisionist encounters with existing monuments that tend to exclude feminist and queer readings.

[Feat.   ] begins with a lowered ceiling made from speaker cover fabric and a black and gold mirrored plexiglass chandelier in the center of the space acting as a disco ball. One must duck under to experience the third feature, customized lounge chairs, and unique seating panels made from pleather, my underwear, and mass-produced prayer rugs, lined with LED lighting, and speakers to hear the sound from the karaoke videos. These Seats have become an object that can be mounted to a wall, like a painting can sometimes question the gaze, these Seats deny you of sitting, and ask the question of who gets to take a seat, or what is the relationship of sitting on the ground, on a prayer rug, verses on a chair.

Lastly, I have included an installation and performance entitled Braidrage, an expansive climbing wall. Braidrage resulted from a set of photographs where I submerged my body in India ink, crude oil, and water to understand how to cast the corners of my body, I call these c-prints Blackwater. Dressing myself with chalk as many other rock climbers do, I became a drawing implement. The holds, which is the name for synthetic rocks at a rock climbing gym, are made of fractured bodies, cast after my own in resin, that are embedded with strands of hair, fragments of reflective space blanket, often seen on the shoulders of refugees, and wearable gold jewelry. Hanging just off the wall is a monumental braid, which I use to climb the wall in a reenactment of generational trans-geographic historical trauma, a recognition of the innumerable lost bodies and histories of other Muslim women that I stand on in order to be here today. What is left behind is a traditional drawing from the chalk studded with casts of my collective body.

Education

2012 MFA, School of Architecture, Art, and Planning, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

2005 BFA, Visual Arts Design & Sociology, University of North Texas, Denton, TX

EXHIBITIONS (Selected)

2018
tba, curated by Ginger Porcella, MOCA Tucson, AZ
Long, Winding Journeys: Contemporary Art and the Islamic Tradition, curated by Elizabeth Rooklidge,

Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY
iamuslima (solo -3rd installment), March 03 – June 24, curated by Polly Nordstrand, Colorado Springs Fine Art Centers, CO TAILBONE, June 02 – June 29, curated by Tenaya Izu and Henry Murphy, 47 Canal, New York, NY
SEED, June 21 – August 10, curated by Yvonne Force, Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, NY
precious not precious, (solo) May 30 – June 29, curated by Cay Sophie Rabinowitz, OSMOSaddress, New York, NY
Carry Over: New Voices from the Global African Diaspora, June 01 – June 30, curated by Kalia Brooks,

Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY
On Whiteness, June 27 – August 03, curated by Lumi Tan, in collaboration with The Racial Imaginary Institute

and The Kitchen, New York, NY
Mane N’ Tail, curated by Katherine Simone Reynolds, Luminary, St. Louis, MO
ROYGBIV, curated by Kate Werble Gallery, NYC
I am no bird…, curated by ltd los angeles, CA
In Practice: Another Echo, curated by Allie Tepper, Sculpture Center, NYC
Rituals, curated by Courtenay Finn, Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO
LOVE 2018: Purple Hearts, curated by Rachel Stern, LeRoy Neiman Gallery at Columbia University, NY HyphenAmerica, curated by Rex Delafkaran and Tsedaye Makonnen, Gallery 102, George Washington University, DC

2017
Reading Room On Purpose, NADA Projects (solo), organized by Participant Inc, New Art Dealers Alliance, Miami, FL Standard Forms, curated by Christian Camacho-Light, The Berrie Center Art Galleries, Ramapo College, New Jersey, NY iamuslima (solo -2nd installment), curated by Sara-Jayne Parsons, Moudy Gallery, at Texas Christian University

College of Fine Arts, Fort Worth, TX
Other Romances, curated by Em Rooney, Rachel Uffner, New York, NY
Iamuslima (solo), curated by Lia Gangitano, Participant Inc. Gallery, New York, NY
Acoustic Sound Blankets (performance), Sessions, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Otherwise, you don’t see me, curated by Rachel Steinberg, SOHO20, Brooklyn, NY
Situational Conflict (performance), curated by Nick Faust, 13th Street Repertory Theatre, New York, NY
Acoustic Sound Blankets(performance), New Art Dealers Alliance: Presents, New York, NY
Leaving Home, curated by David Dixon and Cathouse Funeral, Beacon, NY
Acoustic Sound Blankets(performance), Fatal Love, Queens Museum, Queens, NY
Acoustic Sound Blankets(performance), curated by Robb Jamieson, Art-POP Montréal International Music Festival, Canada

2016
BRIC Biennial, Weeksville Heritage Center, Brooklyn, NY SKOWHEGANPerforms (performance), at Socrates Sculpture Park, New York, NY

Subject to Capital, curated by Joshua Lubin-Levy, Abrons Art Center, New York, NY

2015
Of Gentle Birth, curated by Jonathan Allen, Brooklyn Arts Council, Brooklyn, NY
Walk with Me, (solo), organized by 21st Projects, Critical Practices Inc., New York, NY
Prisoner of Love Performance, Open Text, organized by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, New York, NY

2014
Arrivals, Out to See (performance), curated by Sara Reisman, NYC Department of Cultural Affair’s One Percent for Art Program, NYC

2013
Texas Biennial, 5th Anniversary, Big Medium, Austin, TX
Small Work Big Change Auction, Sylvia Rivera Law Project Collective, Judson Memorial Church, New York, NY

AWARD & ACHIEVEMENT

2018 (tba July 10, 2pm) NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship, Interdisciplinary Work, New York, NY 2016/18 Nomination, Rema Hort Mann Foundation Award
2014 Matching Funds Award, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture

Nomination, Art Matters Artist Grant, New York, NY
2012 Michael Rapuano Memorial Award, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
2010 Nomination, Whitney Museum of American Art, Biennial, New York, NY 2009-10 Experimental Television Center Grant, New York, NY
2005 Arch and Anne Giles Kimbrough Award, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX

Nomination, Artpace Artist in Residence, San Antonio, TX RESIDENCIES/FELLOWSHIPS

2018-19 Artist in Residence, Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, NY
2016-17 Artist in Residence, AIRspace, Abrons Art Center, New York, NY
2015 International Travel Fellowship, Israel/Palestine, Apexart, New York, NY

Artist in Residence, Process Space, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, New York, NY 2014 Artist in Residence, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Program, MA 2009-12 Participant, Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY

Open Wounds by Josetxo Cedán, Work by Dennis Lim,

Witnesses, Monuments, Ruins by Irina Leimbacher
2004-05 Artist in Residence, CentralTrak, the University of Texas at Dallas, TX

PUBLICATIONS (Selected)

2018
Be Careful What you Wish, Chaplet Series, Belladonna, New York, NY
Unbag, Issue#2, New York, NY
Art, Yoga, & A Culture of Appropriation, interview by Ryan LeMere, Aligned Magazine, New York, NY MFA Catalog, Parsons Masters of Fine Art Photography, The New School, New York, NY
tba, The Kitchen and The Racial Imaginary Institute, New York, NY

2017
Provocations, TDR: The Drama Review, coeditor Julie Tolentino, The MIT Press Exclusion and Your Own Heart, J20, Whitney Museum of Art, New York, NY

PRESS/BIBLIOGRAPHY (Selected)

2018
Baseera Khan, AFRICA’S OUT!, New York, NY
The AP Questionnaire: Baseera Khan, MFA Art Practice, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY
The Artist Creating a ‘Karaoke Spiritual Center’ to Explore South Asian Identity, by Sarah Burke, Broadly. VICE Abstractions, by Alissa Smith, Independent, Colorado Springs, CO

2017
A Showing of Art World Solidarity on Inauguration Day, Hyperallergic, New York, NY
Artist Features, Listing Projects, Stephanie Diamond, New York, NY
10 Breakout Artists to Watch at Art Basel Miami Beach 2017
Preview NADA Miami 2017
Climbing Generations of Trauma and Muslim Heritage: Baseera Khan’s “iamuslima” at Participant Inc,

by Emily Colucci, ArtFCity.com
Baseera Khan’s iamuslima, by Terence Trouillot, bombmagazine.org
Baseera Khan’s iamuslima on view at Participant Inc: Interview with the Artist, by Kate Menard, ArteFuse.com Nada Presents: Acoustic Blankets, audio recording by KNOW WAVE, New York, NY
Inside iamuslima: An Interview with Baseera Khan, by Julia Monte, Informality Art and Culture Blog
Osmos Magazine, Issue#12, by Tom McDonough
Baseera Khan, by Jane Ursula Harris, Art in America Magazine, June review online
Baseera Khan, by Annie Godfrey Larmon, ArtForum Magazine, Summer 2017, Reviews, in print
Baseera Khan, ARTnews Magazine, in print
Fatal Love: Where Are We Now, ArtAsiaPacific, by Tausif Noor

2016
14 Emerging Women Artists to Watch in 2017, by Sarah Cascone, news.artnet.com Bomb Artist Profiles, by David Everitt Howe, bombmagazine.org
Subject to Capital Catalog, by Joshua Lubin-Levy, Abrons Art Center, New York, NY

2015
Fellowship Talk, and Travel Journal, organized by Steven Rand, Apexart, New York, NY

TALKS/LECTURES/PANELS/PERFORMANCES (Selected)

2018
Artist Talk: Carry Over: New Voices, moderated by Kalia Brooks, AFRICA’S OUT!, Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY Braidrage Performance, Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO
tba, Artist Lecture and Studio Critiques, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
tba, Artist Tour (performance), Olana State Historic Site, Hudson, New York, NY
Summer of Know, Artist Talk, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
tba, Performance and Talk, Gavin Brown’s Enterprises, New York, NY

2017
Artist Talk and Workshop, Youth Insights Program, Whitney Museum of Art, New York, NY
Braidrage Performance, Participant INC, New York, NY
Material of Border Crossing, Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA Artist Lecture and Discussion, Bard High School Early College, New York, NY
Artist Lecture and Studio Critiques, MFA Architecture, Art, and Planning, Cornell University, New York, NY Acoustic Sound Blankets Performance and Talk, Art Pop Montreal International Music Festival, Montreal, CA Artist Lecture and Studio Critiques, Masters of Fine Arts Photography, Parsons, The New School, New York, NY Acoustic Sound Blankets, Performance and Talk, Williams College, Williamstown, MA
iamuslima, Performance, Artist Lecture and Studio Critiques, Texas Christian University, Ft. Worth, TX
Artist Lecture and Studio Critiques, MFA Art and Practice, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY
Mourning my Freedom (performance), Abrons Art Center, New York, NY
Artist Lecture and Studio Critiques, Graduate Fine Arts, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY

2016
Artist Talk, Teacher’s College, Columbia University, New York, NY

2013
Life/Work, Bard Symposium, with Aay Kay Burns, Sharon Louden, and Mark Stafford,

International Center For Photography, New York, NY
The Now and the Visual Arts: Contemporary & Historical Figurations of the Present,

co-organized with Anna Horakova and Hannah Mueller Departments of German Studies

& Art, Architecture, and Planning at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Memory and Monuments, NY Integrative Seminar, Parsons, The New School, New York, NY

TEACHING

2018 -__ 2018 -__ 2018 2017 -__ 2017 -__ 2015 -18 2014 -16 2010 -12

Mentorship Program, New York Arts Practicum, New York, NY
Summer Faculty, MFA Art Practice, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY
MFA Studio Critiques, Columbia University, New York, NY
Part-time Faculty, New York University, New York, NY
MFA Mentorship Program, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY
Part-time Faculty, Parsons, The New School for Design, New York, NY
Teaching Fellow, Studio Lab, Abrons Art Center, New York, NY
Teaching Fellow, Architecture, Art, and Planning, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

CURATORIAL WORK (Selected)

2018
Queens International 2018: Volumes, co-curated with Sophia Marisa Lucas, Queens Museum, NY

2016
The Others: An Artist’s Studio, co-curated with Jonatha Manno, 56 Bogart, Brooklyn, NY

2015-12
Artist and Archives Research Fellowship, Participant Inc., New York, NY

Vaginal Davis: HAG-Small, contemporary, haggard The Lookout: Luther Price
Greer Lankton: LOVE ME

2013
On Mourning Art and Politics: Facebook Feed Experimental Project

2010
A Wild Gander: Artists from the South Asian Woman’s Creative Collective, BRIC Art Media, Brooklyn, NY Neo-Nomads, co-curated with Aileen Wilson and Anne-Laure Fayard, BRIC Art Media, Brooklyn, NY

2009
Moonlighting, Art Worker by Day, Artist by Night, Hosfelt Gallery, New York, NY A New Deal, Art and Currency, BRIC Art Media, Brooklyn, NY
Portraits of the Artist: Matt Wolf, Charlie Ahearn, BRIC Art Media, Brooklyn, NY