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Anchor 1

)frottage( - 2023

framed archival inkjet prints, single channel video with poetry, stereo channel sound

What does it mean to relate against the grain of relation? This installation enacts a methodology based on Keguro Macharia's theory of frottage: rather than use relationality to tell complete narratives around a reparative kinship or universal humanity, frottage confronts the frictional zone where bodies, forms, and concepts brush against one another in tenuous, ephemeral, and perhaps even violent ways. It combines the aesthetic and sensory with the erotic and sensual, focusing on the traces of what has passed through different spaces of charged encounter. Calling on two contrasting moments of intimacy that emerged toward the end of the six years that my partner and I lived together in Egypt--conditioned within the ongoing reverberations of state violence--this multisensory installation unthreads a range of frictional sensations which work in counterpoint to one another, asking how the queer intimate can produce an alternative, deliberately abrasive relationship to sensuality, the sensory, and sense-making more broadly.

turning(s) a-way - 2022
single channel video, stereo channel sound

This ongoing series questions the grounds on which disruptive visual tools and approaches may continue to reappropriate the same logical structures that they aim to overcome. In calling on the interconnected histories of photography, cinema, and cubism, this project thinks through the impossibility of “turning away” from visual technologies—even those that claim to contest normative visual orders—built on assuming all-encompassing perspectives. For the first part of this series, I staged, with the help of my partner, a series of analog photographs that frame isolated segments of my upper body as I physically turn from the camera. These turnings then also reveal variegated spatial dynamics of the photographic encounter via the rhythms of my body in relation to the camera’s shutter. Through the juxtaposing and collaging of these images—some of which are double exposed, others cut and re-spliced together—a field of indeterminacy is produced that both critiques visibility and nevertheless attempts to work within its inevitabilities. The first two outputs from this series are a looping video piece and a 18x48in collage. The video presents dizzying series of images made from the same 24 frames from the original film roll and incorporates an asynchronous soundscape of noises made by my camera, where the fast-paced juxtaposition of the technological intermittently echoes human-adjacent noises of gulping or bone crunching. The collage then works in counterpoint with the video to present an alternative bodily form made from the splicing of image and flesh, from the light and shadow produced within the choreography of my turnings and the shutter’s openings.

absence)/(presence - 2022
framed archival inkjet prints, english/arabic text

This series addresses absence and presence as shifting and interlocking nodes of queer experience that cannot be mapped onto a progressive politic of visibility, where mundane spaces and objects in my and my partner’s home create embodied absences as well as embody lingering presences related to our careful navigations of the private sphere in Cairo. This navigation is further ruptured by my partner’s forced inscription into the national military, where he was absent from this home for over twenty days before forcing his own release. Inspired by Tina Campt’s work on stillness/stasis, absence)/(presence refuses the straightforward visibility of queer persons at different positions of precarity to state regimes and instead engages an alternate sensory arrangement to bodily-optical tactics of the hetero/militaristic. Here, scenes of care and intimacy do not call on a promised humanity but rather refute the structures ensuring such a promise is never fulfilled. This can be seen in the apricots, a “precocious” fruit (coming from the Arabic “barqūq”) long considered a military curse, that we coincidentally feed one another in a hidden corner of our living room days after my partner’s return. Through the text, the translative intersections and gaps that exist within the languages we speak are performed, while its alternating presence on the gallery wall gestures towards unthought absences that exist beyond the frame. Within these tensions of image and text, of light, shadow, and refraction, absence)/(presence evokes queerness’ entanglements with quotidian voids that confound the visible/legible while simultaneously questioning viewers’ differential access to them.

trace(s), track(s) - 2022
single channel video with poetry, stereo channel sound

This video intersects across different physical spaces within the campgrounds of Nuweiba—where I and a group of friends from Cairo stayed for the week—and places this audiovisual experience in counterpoint with a poetic text linking this momentary excursion to larger meditations on spatiality. In crafting deliberately slow and embodied forms of perception that create a meditative, almost somnambulant viewing experience (akin to filmmakers such as Apichatpong Weerasethakul), this work does not offer an attempt to address the excess complexities of the South Sinai’s ongoing socio-political history but rather an ephemeral encounter with built environments that are still necessarily socio-politically situated—such as a quick question-and-response undergirded by the region’s former occupation as well as the recent reopening of the nearby Taba border. Ultimately, the piece uses a queer lens to call on questions of attentiveness and attunement—what we alternatively allow to wash over us or pass us by, and how this undeniably affects and changes the impacts of our spatiotemporal encounters.

intersection(s) - 2020-2022
analog and digital photography    

In their recent anthology on anti-portraiture—a term I first encountered in Huey Copeland’s writing on Lorna Simpson—Johnstone and Imber promote a diverse genealogy of work that challenges the portrait’s normative position as representing the privileged individual subject of western modernity. While much of my work already operates in a similar register of contestation, this ongoing series more directly tackles how the notion of intersection, particularly in relation to space and subjectivity, is key to challenging the fundamental relationship between cameras and photographed persons: what context, whether at the sociopolitical or interpersonal level, enters into the image to complicate viewers’ abilities to access these people, and how do notions of intimacy and distance critically co-mingle beyond commonly understood aesthetic patterns? How, particularly for queer people, do we embed or dis-embed ourselves in relation to built environments in ways that help contest how we see, and thereby think, about the human? This series has begun with a small number of photographs taken via my everyday dwellings—whether when finding the sudden reveal of my partner’s arms from behind a wooden pole, waiting for my friend as she casually chats on the phone at the Guggenheim, or even stumbling on myself in the reflection of a window while shooting for [still] but a hiding spot. While never denying how the camera’s presence necessarily changes the spaces it encounters, as argued by Ariella Azoulay, I enact methods that aim to reduce the primacy of the camera and avert its unconscious disciplining of human form.

Xhide - 2020
single channel video, stereo channel sound   

Grounded in a particular political context in September-November 2019, this video was first shot as part of creative project during my MA program, and I have since re-filmed it. By refracting the affective experiences of surveillance, collective anxiety, and carceral precarity onto the material space of the home that I share with my partner, this video presents a deliberately partial view of queer life in Cairo through the leaking of pressures and fears from the public sphere into the most private of spaces. While filming it, I constrained myself to compose shots where, even when looking “in” at the home, some element of the “outside” can be seen, heard, or felt in the frame, which is itself a reflection of our carefully navigated visual and aural presences for the sake of my partner's safety. Here, light, sound, shadow, and silence are being constantly negotiated—and are differentially refracted within and without our home—to offer alternative ways of thinking notions of queer presence and absence otherwise to normative narratives of visibility.

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