No Instructions for Assembly


NO INSTRUCTIONS FOR ASSEMBLY creates an ephemeral and portable archive of my family. At 12 years old in 1998, my family became homeless. For a decade, our bodies were displaced and dispersed across hostile geographies—shelters, relative’s homes, and motels. Our corporeal bodies and bodies of memories were fragmented. At 12, I began collecting fragments and archiving my family's history in shoeboxes and manila folders which in my adult years has translated into an explicit artistic-archival practice of intervening/interfering with the machinery of the official archive through installation arts where I am mapping the absences, examining the hegemonic landscape of institutional memories and plotting new terrain for unofficial memories to be articulated. I work at the intersection of the archival, alchemy, and cartography where I experiment with transmuting residue, margins, footnotes, and other traces into fleshy narratives that can be articulated into spatial environments where official narratives can be disrupted. I engage with vestigial flickers, traces, residue, and footnotes of memory within spatial registers such as domestic spaces, museums, scientific taxonomic display, and religious altars to create constellations of found as well as original images, objects, and texts that tell the fragmented history of my family. Those material traces with which I work are specters or ghosts—the past showing up in the present, refusing to leave. The audience is invited into an intimate space, a constructed universe where they can speculate on the layered histories of presence, redaction, fiction, narrative infidelity, and elastic futures. 

Dimensions Variable. 5 unframed diptychs and collages (8" x 12"), 15 unframed original photographs (seven 16" x 24", eight 12" x 16"), 12 framed found photographs (one 11" x 14", four 12" x 16", two 11" x 17", three 16" x 24", two 8" x 10"), 243 found photographs and personal family photographs, various tufts of family hair, crumbled American flag sewn with linen thread (3' x 5'), 2 Islamic prayer rugs (2.5' x 5'), large burgundy abaya, black hijab, New York Times newspapers, Muslim Journal periodicals, Final Call periodicals, 35 books, 6 religious tracts, 5 mirrors (11" x 14"), cigarette boxes, tea bags, black stockings, bleaching cream, concealer, votive candle, handwritten letters, upholstered chair, album covers

I conceptualized this work while in residence at The Center for Photography at Woodstock in Woodstock, NY.


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