Bashir Naim

Organization, for me, is a means for ordering and tracing the trajectories of an evolving community. The complex visual narratives that I’m creating offer an ongoing, unfolding story of my life and how I interact with community – as an art form. Layered orders – the altered image – in front of the altered body – in alternative environments for performance – provide conditions of possibility. I want to shift legibility by discovering symbiotic productions at the juncture of performance and incident. Inviting people to find my body as outside of typical conception, performing with images outside of the context prescribed to them, and staging it all in venues or arenas not classically offered to such a triangulation – is part of my process.

I collect images, be they ephemeral, sentimental, or material. I then generate digital collages and look for a construct within which infinitely derivable contexts, works, and arrangements are demonstrated and performed. The images become a platform, environment, and atmosphere in front of which my body performs and is absorbed . I animate the images with a friend and collaborator and have them projected (via multiple video projection sources) onto a simply constructed tableaux of boxes, ladders, chairs and other objects. I am also physically situated in/amongst these objects. My body and the images coexist in a transforming installation in the public landscape that creates constellations of materials, processes, and products.

This performance-based circulation of things enables new approaches to creative practice as a basis for communication and response. I am choosing venues for performance not limited to the formally educated voyeur or audience – because my brain doesn’t respond exclusively with and to a rhetoric informed by text, academia, or institutional influence and condition. Clubs, bars, and warehouses – though relegated to those with access to either material, social (or other forms of) capital – still shift the conventional variables and parameters of a more institutional framework or proscenium style performance . So, I prioritize these spaces – where the performance of failure is possible – rather than striving exclusively to perform something consistent with accreditation , laurels, or celebrity.

I’m born of defiant traditions. My maternal family are Sephardic Jewish immigrants who defied the dominant Orthodoxy to situate Jewish and Middle Eastern identity on their own terms. They provided agency to their children to involve themselves in critique and expansion of its traditions, rather than resign to the singularity of Jewish identity replete in its more Zionistic iterations. My paternal family – largely my Uncle and two aunts – after living on a kibbutz in Israel returned to the US to find an intentional community in the Berkshire Mountains to expand the modern dance lexicon. They restored an old farmhouse and its joining lands to situate a cooperatively owned and operated farm, bakery, and set of dance facilities. This community, called Earthdance, is the permanent residence to 25 individuals, maintains a working farm and bakery, an impressive set of rehearsal studios and performance structures, and a successful internationally renown residency program that has seen the visit and influence of Michael Clark, Anna Halpren, Yvonne Rainer, Pina Bausch, Keith Hennessy and more.

My experience being reared in or around this community – allowed for an open critique of the institutional dance world, academia, and the more widely accepted standards or paradigms for living. I have since translated this into a multitude of creative endeavors- collaborating with artists both within and outside of the mainstream laurels of residency programs, grant funding, institutional accreditation, celebrity or other forms of commercial representation and measures of success. I currently play a recurring role on the television show “Transparent,” and maintain collaborative relationships with artists like Wolfgang Tillmans, Peaches, Zackary Drucker, Mykki Blanco, ZEMMOA, and Millie Brown, while also curating a nomadic performance experience called “PERSON”. The last platform invites both club-based and more “formal”, institutionally located performance artists, musicians, and dancers to intersect in a nightlife environment meant to celebrate and join the person-hood of individuals placed within or outside of access, convention, esteem, and/or more widely accepted standards of aptitude.

I want the multitude of my references to be understood – because it is a referential capacity and community interaction or influence that inform my work most greatly. I see these things as working in tandem as I move from image collection to image animation to situating a performance in front of these images that responds to particular environments and conditions. It’s important to not only expose my own process and work, but use the materials or resources to which I have access to simultaneously elevate the narrative and traditions of others making work, seeking platforms for particular practices, or merely trying to exist freely as they are.

Through my art, I explore the slippages of myself as a character or characters in my own life – as an ongoing performance to others. I pull from the cinematic breadth or range of characters explored by performers like Ingrid Bergman or Denis Levant, to the creative performance practices of Keijuan Thomas, Dia Dear, Boychild, Sofia Moreno, Lynn Hershman-Leeson, Mykki Blanco, or Sofia Reta. I am drawn in by artists that utilize elevated or constructed self to deconstruct prevailing paradigms that actually control or exert influence on our identity and experiences.

As a developing artist, I want to remain open to being visible, being read, considered, interpreted, imbued with meanings I didn’t intend. I explore my ideas through the enactment of visual narratives that intend to dismantle certain conventions and the privileging of elite voices. And the audience is collaborating on curating this process, wherein I/they/we follow tributaries, trajectories, caverns, methods, experiments, that express wonder and agency in an ongoing unfolding of this story of making something, and truly becoming.