Baseera Khan, ink drawings of a stage set for a TV show called BY FAITH, in preparation for The Kitchen residency, 2020.
How have you been?
I am on zoom for hours, pretending that work calls can facilitate my personal emotional wellness. I feel good some days and other days I just stay in bed and watch TV. One thing I try to do is walk 6 miles mostly every day, it clears my head and jolts my body into having a spirit again.
Being alone is a blessing, but so is being social, I hope my future holds some balance. For now I am alone. The air conditioner is on all the time, and it annoys me, the air is clean and crisp and cold, just like the promises of being safe in this country, it is too much and I end up getting allergies from the unit, the comfort the cold air provides hurts me in the end. My cat is with me on my sofa, on the carpet, on the table, mostly asleep and safe, but does not allow for me to pet her or hug her much, at the least her vomiting has subsided from the panic the fireworks exploding at night induced.
But she and I are chill. Sitting still. Bathed. And clean.
I do have a lot of fear around building the emotional capacity to be alone, from now on having a family or a significant other seems like a missed opportunity.
I need to believe in art as the origin of thought, of love, of dissent, of revolutionary capability. I have to keep my artwork at the center - or I will have nothing and want nothing.
I feel that I am of a tongue and not of my mother's tongue - so from the get go I am always at a loss for communication. Urdu and Arabic both languages laced in race and religious persecution - English at the helm of all cultural divides. English is a way forward that has evidentiary proof, it shows what a total scam this country really is, and what its powerful personnel is willing to do to suppress the very cultures and people that built the country. This country is built on false promises. But I still believe in youth and that the future arcs toward goodness. I believe in joy and sex and ecstasy.
Mostly I believe in the "us," we manage to build something pure and careful and full of space for us to be messy and funny and sad and vulnerable, divas, and bad bitches.
So yes we have to remember there is still much to look forward to, and much curiosity ahead of us to keep life interesting and worth fighting for.
What are you working on?
All images are of works I have managed to do and start during the lockdown. The ink drawings are me working out stage set directions to prepare for my 6 week residency at The Kitchen where I am creating a pilot TV show called BY FAITH. I am hoping to make 10 episodes.
Summary of the show:
Baseera Khan is an artist who has lived in Crown Heights for 10 years. Early this spring, Baseera finally moved furniture into the space, cleaned up clutter and felt motivated to cultivate a social life, maybe even evaluate intimacy issues and perhaps start dating. It’s been 4 years since their divorce. Then the pandemic hit and “shelter in place” put a wrench in that for the foreseeable future. Now, Baseera is prone to talking to their kitchen knives and vegetables, prone to nodding off and daydreaming that they are hanging out with friends: eating, walking, sleeping at the beach.
Baseera's success has always felt like ‘failing upwards’ instead of innately earned. They are haunted, questioning their own legitimacy, if they deserve, not just a seat at the table, but their own dining room table. This feeling, a systemic issue, is often felt in the BIPOC artist communities. Achieving love and balance seems like a radical act, instead of just striving for a ‘normal’ life. However, because everyone in the world is isolated now, is Baseera somehow doing better during this pandemic, uprising, and economic crisis? As we see Baseera preside over their apartment, we start to understand that the world we are experiencing is all in their head.
All images courtesy of Baseera Khan.
Interview conducted by Klaudia Ofwona Draber.
Baseera Khan, bus shelter ad for Public Art Fund’s Art on the Grid initiative: Blue White and Red, 2020. Pleather, Leather, C-print, Grommets, 35 x 21.75 inches.
Baseera Khan, Yellow and Black, 2020. Pleather, Leather, C-print, Grommets, 32.5 x 19 inches.
Baseera Khan, new collage from Snake Skin series: Green Cut-out, 2020. Chromogenic print, metal chain, acrylic, wool hand-made Kashmiri rug, 24 x 18 inches.