Asuf Ishaq   

HD Film
16 minutes

In my recent film ‘Mother’, I explore the back story of a fifty year old photograph of my mother, and draw out memories and thoughts. I move through spaces, gathering up histories and memories that are lost or covered over in the movement of displacement, and begin to produce new knowledge. I explore the photograph with my mother, and involve her in my practice, a space where we normally would not overlap. I sensually explore both the surface of skin and of the photograph, untangling my mothers memories and thoughts. Bright space of the virtual environment, my reality, where the photograph is in the process of being restored. Photograph is a transitional and a transnational object, objects can be considered as any external object that a person partially incorporates in the process. Different times and spaces are explored, similar position in the house where the wall is always present and standing. Just as my mothers faith and pray, always solid as the wall and constant in her life, which has got her through difficult times.

Not Quite Alive (2018/19) Goldsmiths

MFA Interim exhibition 2018/19, Goldsmiths, London

Film was part of the installation

The film begins with a translucent head rising from the soil, comprehending its own corporeality and surveying its surroundings, perhaps an alien life form dropped into the woodland, or a terrestrial being exhumed from the soil. In this landscape, things and sounds are disorientated, inverted and displaced. The movement of the trees above appears unfamiliar and cybernated, and the psithurism is electronic

Represents the silenced objects or things in the racial imaginary in which people are reduced to the non-human, and classed as lesser species, in another words closer to ‘nature’. He incorporates land and soil, recognizing its symbolic significance as both a beginning and an endpoint, a transtemporal portal, an archive of migration.

For Foucault, the body is a static conduit for biopower, but perhaps here it is also more active. Maybe the transhuman body in Not Quite Alive is a mediator, a translator, a prosthetic mouthpiece for the archival, passive yet omniscient soil and the legacies of colonialism carved into it. Its testimony, a detuned, ambiguous voice, recites lines from Sun Ra’s The Satellites Are Spinning: ‘The satellites are spinning / A new day is dawning / The galaxies are waiting / For planet Earth’s awakening.’ (Sun Ra, 2020). Satellites must spin to remain stable in relation to the rotation of the Earth. They must be dynamic and evolving but outwardly appear constant. (Text by curator Christy O'Beirne)

Becoming Nature (2018)
60x16 cm
Cast into cement and plaster 

Group exhibition, ‘Sight for Sore Eyes’, at Gossamer Fog gallery, London 2018

Ishaq makes casts of his own diasporic body, knees and elbows, which resemple perhaps a giant bean or a seed to be grown and nurtured. Burying to promise of return or to leave behind as death of a life. Parts of the body carry archive of sensorial memory that transmits experiences, evocations and traumas across generations.
Conceptually, I draw inspiration from Édouard Glissant’s writing, specifically Poetics of Relation, his conception of Rhizomatic and fluid identity, and ideas of rootedness and uprootedness. Ishaq’s practice incorporates land and soil, recognizing its symbolic significance as both a beginning and an endpoint, a transtemporal portal, an archive of migration.
He exploring objects that travel along paths of human diaspora and international trade encode cultural displacement. Even commodities, though they are subject to the deracinating flow of the transnational economy and the censoring process of official history, these objects retain the power to tell the stories of where they have been. Culture is something that travelers bring consistently than ‘nation’; it is the stuff that passes through national borders and transforms nations from within.

Becoming Nature from Asuf Ishaq on Vimeo.

Tape Letter
HD Film
2 mins 30 secs

In this film Ishaq re-acts the recordings his mother recording a voice letter to her family in Kashmir.

Tape letters or voice recordings of the 1960’s/70’s diaspora communities in UK, a British history that included Ishaq’s parents from Kashmir. I am exploring these intimate relationships and communication through technology, and voice messages. This is ongoing new project, Bishopsgate Institute London have an archive of tape cassette letter recordings of Pakistani’s who migrated to United Kingdom. 

Ishaq’s works in ‘hybridity’ or hybrid forms, just as I navigate through my cultural identity. Mixing documentary, fiction, personal, and experimental genres, as well as different media and mediums, such as cement/plaster, metal, film and photography. By pushing the limits of any one of these genre, this hybrid way of working forces each genre to explain itself, to forgo any transparent relationship to the reality it represents, and to make evident the knowledge claims on which it is based. My way of working is in a position to do archeology, to dig up the traces that the dominant culture overlooks, and for that matter any fixed cultural organization.

Can you see me (2018)