MOCA presents SCREEN: Arshia Haq, which features two videos by artist Arshia Haq. The first work Romantic Scene will be on view September 23–October 7, and the second work (Re)collection will be on view October 8–October 22.
Arshia Fatima Haq (born in Hyderabad, India, based in Los Angeles, CA) works across film, visual art, performance and sound. She is interested in counter-archives, speculative documentaries, and the blurred lines between fact and fiction, and is currently exploring themes of embodiment and mysticism, particularly within the Islamic Sufi context. Her body of work stems from the complexities of inhabiting multiple personas – woman, Muslim, immigrant, citizen – and is conceptualized in feminist modes outside of the Western model. Narrative threads include migration, celebration, warfare, nostalgia, homeland, and borders, often within realms of Islamic influence, through both traditional forms and kaleidoscopic reinventions via pop culture. She is the founder of Discostan, a collaborative decolonial project working with cultural production from the SWANA (South and West Asia and North Africa) region.
Haq’s Romantic Scene (2019) is a work in progress. Romantic Scene was inspired by Naomi Uman’s 1999 film Removed, in which she meticulously removed the bodies of female actors from the filmstrips of archival pornographic films. In Romantic Scene, Haq employs a similar technique. Examining tropes of gendered violence in commercial Bollywood films from the 70s and 80s, Haq sources film sequences that depict the sexual assault of female characters. These scenes of violence are archetypical to the Indian cinema of her childhood, and are a format designed to simultaneously horrify and titillate the audience. Through an analog process of reshooting these scenes on super 8 or 16mm film, then physically erasing the bodies of the women’s bodies burned into the film, Haq renders these women’s forms as empty, deteriorated shadows onto which their attackers carry out acts of abject–and normalized–violation. Through this gesture, Haq signifies the erasure of agency and the sanctioning of violence toward women encouraged by these scenes and sequences.
Haq’s film (Re)collection (2005) moves between archival photographs, oral storytelling, and footage of printing and preservation processes to trace the intersection of historical and personal memory, collecting and archiving, and the gradual disappearance of the Urdu language
SCREEN: Arshia Haq is organized by Nevin Kallepalli.