[-empyre-] empyre Digest, Vol 169, Issue 14

shirin fahimi shirin.fah at gmail.com
Fri Mar 29 08:52:56 AEDT 2019

(Shirin Fahimi)

Hello Empyre community,

Thanks to Lola and Sarah for inviting me to take part for this week

I do apologize for the late and rushed reply, I had to travel to Chicago
this week as part of our Taklif collective, for the screening Disorienting
Diasporas. (Since 2006, the Queer Media Database Canada-Québec Project
(QMDCQ) has worked to resuscitate a rich heritage of queer moving-image
makers and their works. Curated by the QMDCQ in partnership with the
Montréal-based collective Taklif: تکلیف, Disorienting Diasporas is a
migrant mixtape par excellence.)


In this email I would like to briefly introduce myself and our collective
Taklif. And tomorrow I would like to follow up with some responses to
previous discussions around collectivity.

I was involved with the Refiguring the Future Conference through my
collaboration with Morehshin Allahyari. We had a performance piece (
Breaching Towards the Other Futures) on the second day of the conference,
at knockdown centre.

Born in Tehran, I’m currently living and working in Canada. In my practice,
I explore the possibilities of toolkit-making to further examine the use of
objects as an agential instrument in path-making. In doing so, I study the
instrumentality of texts and objects such as manuscripts, diagrams,
calligrams, and amulets in Islamic cultures. Rather than exclusively
focusing on the aesthetic appeal of these talismanic objects, I make
references to their performative significance.

My current research, for instance, is informed by the performative aspect
of the divinatory practice of Ilm Al-Raml (geomancy), known as a source of
transformation, empowerment and identification. While emphasizing on the
temporal and spatial aspects of such a performative act, I am interested in
how the subject actively involves with her past, present and future, not
only as a search for knowledge but as a source of empowerment and hope.

In my last performance, entitled Breaching Towards other Futures (
2018-2019) for instance, which was developed in sequenced collaboration
with Morehshin Allahyari, we channelled the revelation of the jinn figure
Aisha Qandisha and fictional character of Umm Al-Raml (the geomancer) as
our method for evolving rebellious narrations with the concept of futurity
and resilience.



I would like to introduce the collective that I have been involved with for
the past two years.The collective borrows the term which enfolds
connotations—such as: homework, invitation, pain, responsibility, cost, and
fate—that is shared by diverse linguistic territories, including Arabic,
Farsi, and Urdu, among others.

Taklif : تکلیف is an imaginary space and a traveling library for
radical imagination dedicated to learning, unlearning, and relearning
practices through art and dialogue ; an artist-run initiative formed with
the ambition to rigorously bridge our intellectual activities with our
emotional embodied intuitions, within and beyond institutional settings.

Taklif : تکلیف is homework — processes of learning, unlearning,
and relearning within an imaginary space, in which our attempts to escape
finally cease through our fugitive practices of togetherness.

Taklif : تکلیف is responsibility, as we study institutional and
organizational frameworks, rhetorics, and behaviours that perpetuate the
marginalization and the subjugation of the marginalized.

Taklif : تکلیف is fate, where the entangled possibilities cross each other,
in resisting the promises of belonging we heard through our precarious
passages of home-leaving.

Taklif : تکلیف believes our principles are only valid once we
remember the unceded lands on which we dwell, think, read, write, and work.


Part of an interview we had with Syphon (Modern Fuel's in house
publication) which has not been published yet:

Who you are and what you do? (mandate/mission statement)
Taklif : تکلیف,  is an imaginary space and a travelling library dedicated
to the (un)learning practices associated with non-white communities through
art and dialogue. Being initiated through our lived racialized experiences
as well as our involvement with artistic practices, Taklif evokes
domesticity and study.

How are you doing what you do?
We study.
We are engaged in home-working collaborative practices including
publication, screening, showcasing, and any possible forms of socialization
out of the institutional settings.
That being said, Taklif does not take study as a pedagogical method of
knowledge-making that has conditioned our learning processes within
academic spaces. Instead, we do art to create spaces that foster radical
imaginations rising from home.

We (re)organize.
Trying to find modest ways toward decentered exhibition-making practices,
we approach art through our home-works. We use the space that is available
to us (which is mostly our own home) to exercise forms of aesthetics that
usually do not fit in uncanny spaces such as galleries. For us, the uncanny
is a place where we are stripped of our agencies in organization.

We home.
We take refuge in the processes of homing where we can restlessly flex our

Are you doing what you do in specific ways? Are you inventing your own
We shape personal bonds in our community instead of making professional
networks, as so we do prefer the domestic over the institutional.

Are you altering or diverging from past ways of working as a
We learn from each others the ways we can imagine and make things work
together collectively.

Are you filling a gap?
No. While we well recognize the gaps, we consciously refrain exhausting
ourselves through filling any gaps within and beyond the white institution.
By disassociating ourselves from any affirmative agendas we leave the gaps
unfilled as milestones while we keep bridging and rooting around them.

How are you funded? (grants/fundraising/donations/parties etc). (If you
don’t need funds please disregard).
Taklif was first initiated with zero budget and without any funding
Giving that domestic and emotional labour are not conventionally measurable
in existing monetary value systems involved with the arts, we adhere to
maintain a modest budget through collaborative outsourcing funding methods,
depending on the scale and form of labour and skills involved.

How are you measuring success?
Taklif does not measure success by any means. We are committed to Taklif as
processes of home-working than outcome; survival than achievement, presence
than outstanding, companionship than competence.

Shirin Fahimi



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