Info Bomb: The Subcontinent Newsroom

4-15 October 2013
Art Metropole & Media Commons See Listings for Addresses

A project with Other Asias and Aam Awaam
Co-presented by SAVAC & Art Metropole October 4-25

Follow the ongoing project. Watch films.

  1. BILF (Berlin International League of Foreigners)
  2. Birds and Terrain by Monika Löve
  3. A Line Between Two Tales: The Story of Dhanak and Baadal by Meenakshi Thirukode, Ayesha Kamal and Peter J. Hoffmeister
  4. Subcontinent by Meenakshi Thirukode
  5. Drawing the Line by Ayesha Kamal

Fatima and Zahra Hussain, members of Other Asias transnational art collective and founders of Aam Awaam, an online radio station are Artists-in-Residence with SAVAC at Art Metropole. Taking theorist Paul Virilio’s concept of the “Information Bomb” from the book of the same name, Fatima and Zahra Hussain will be reporting daily from the “The Subcontinent Newsroom”, where they will compile information and reactions by artists to a fictitious document, which is the kernel of Info-Bomb.

This fictitious document, written by Mohandas K. Gandhi, Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Sir Cyril Radcliffe in 1947, has been discovered in 2013. The document states that the borders of the South Asian Subcontinent, will once again be re-drawn, 67 years after independence, to “restore peace and harmony within the region.” Other Asias has commissioned a group of artists and writers to respond to this document. Throughout the month of October 2013, international and local artists, and art collectives will create videos, web-based works, articles, photographs and conduct public interventions throughout Toronto. In addition to public screenings and performances, the artists’ work will appear in three editions of newspapers, which will be distributed throughout Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area during October.

Performing the role of newspaper editors, Fatima and Zahra Hussain, will also be creating podcasts based on the art works produced and giving online lectures from “The Subcontinent Newsroom,” housed at Art Metropole. Info-Bomb is a participatory and discursive way for artists and curators to speak to the ways in which information is disseminated. Employing South Asian border politics as a way in which to address such issues, all the artists and curators involved engage the public using different media and platforms to speak to the ever-changing, imaginary and arbitrary borders of the Indian Subcontinent.

Participating artists included: Abdullah Aslam, BerlinBorderCast, Eshan Rafi, Jon Soske, Rajee Paña Jeji Shergill, Monika Löve, Meenakshi Thirukode, Peter J. Hoffmeister, Ayesha Kamal, Tazeen Qayyum & Zuklekha.


Issue 1 / Issue 2 / Issue 3

Event Listings

Saturday 5 October 2020 – 9-11pm
Tazeen Qayyum will be performing from The Subcontinent Newsroom. Venue: Art Metropole. 1490 Dundas St. West, Toronto.

Wednesday 9 October 2020 –  7-9pm
Eshan Rafi will be conducting one-to-one performances over 2 hours from The Subcontinent Newsroom. Venue: Art Metropole. 1490 Dundas St. West, Toronto.

Tuesday 15 October 2020 –  7-9pm
Video works by Jon Soske & Rajee Jeji Shergill, BerlinBorderCast and Monika Love will be screened. Discussion with Fatima & Zahra Hussain, Neelika Jayawardana, Jon Soske & Rajee Jeji Shergill, moderated by Indu Vashist to follow. Venue: Media Commons, University of Toronto, 3rd Floor, Robarts Library, 130 St. George St., Toronto.

Saturday 19 October 2020 – 2-4pm
No Reading After the Internet with Fatima and Zahra Hussain. Cheyanne Turions will be moderating this event with artists Fatima and Zahra Hussain, live form The Subcontinent Newsroom. Venue: Art Metropole. 1490 Dundas St. West, Toronto.

Artist Biographies

Fatima Hussain is an Artist-Curator/Theatre Practitioner based in Pakistan. Her work over the last few years has addressed multiple issues bringing into it the political, the historical, the everyday, and whether with intention or escape, ‘art’ for her, has fallen within a larger interpretation of the colonized structures, languages and territory. She founded Other Asias, a transnational in 2011 that voices fictive and found sounds in order to create and inform technocratic society. Her recent curatorial projects include Info-Bomb, SLICE and Redo Pakistan, mostly nomadic in nature, curated in the form of newspapers, websites, radio shows and public events. Fatima is a 2005 graduate of the National College of Art (Lahore) where she was trained as a painter. She moved on to Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London for her MFA (2007-2008).

Zahra Hussain is a Theater practitioner, Research Architect and Activist based in Pakistan. She initiated various workshops such as “Safe guarding Heritage trees” for the Heritage Foundation. She has hosted Tea sessions, a discussion forum in Lahore and Islamabad. She is a research collaborator on Center for Research Architecture project “Forensic Architecture” that centers upon visually presenting large-scale humanitarian violence. She is the founder and Director of Laajverd, and co-founded Aam Awaam where socio-economic inquires are made visible through various means of communication. Zahra is a 2009 graduate of the National College of Art (Lahore) and did her MA in Research Architecture, Visual Cultures from Goldsmiths University, UK. Imagining geographies, concerns of borders and languages and experiments with what an alternative world could be, became part of their strategy to imagine things differently. In their collaborative curatorial practice as Aam Awaam (an online radio), Fatima & Zahra Hussain actively engage with the happenings of the city either through sound, drawings, writings and mix-media installations, to sometimes question the role of borders and language, to create the technocrat and to imagine an alternate future. Aam Awaam is an online radio project that features found and fictive sounds from in, and around the city.

Abdullah Aslam is a freelance Graphic illustrator and has done design work for magazines, art exhibitions and has also produced a series on comics which is currently being published in the Pakistani newspaper, Tribune. For the project Info-Bomb, Abdullah is experimenting with cartography as a response to fictive documents, and is drawing maps for the new Subcontinent.

BerlinBorderCast In 2012 a group of Berlin-based scientists, philosophers and artists rediscovered Henry Morgenthau Jr’s. second of edition of Germany Is Our Problem (Harper&Brothers, New York, 1946). In this book Morgenthau proposed a utopian plan to turn Berlin into a political chessboard on which all nations could fight out non-belligerent, proxy wars by means of different rituals and ceremonies in order to overcome armed conflict. The group soon realized that the visions of the man responsible for shaping the future of Post-Nazi Germany had, over the course of decades, been perverted by different political and economical interest groups and had inspired what is now known as the daily border ceremony between India and Pakistan. As a reaction to these observations they founded BerlinBorderCast (BBC), an initiative dedicated to making Morgenthau’s ideas more publicly known and to bringing his vision back to the place they had originally been designed for. BerlinBorderCast is currently performing a variety of border ceremonies in different parts of Berlin on a regular basis and is now expanding this concept with the help of the Berlin International Legion of Foreigners (BILF). The BILF is a participatory initiative that invites the participants to create their own nation state in the Berlin International Zone according to Morgenthau’s vision. It offers them the possibility to liberate themselves from the boundaries of the present-day nation states they inhabit and to become global foreigners – highly flexible and non-violent nomadic citizens of a world that is both analog and digital. By liberating Morgenthau’s ideas from their original stationary design and by simultaneously allowing the global foreigners to maintain a sense of local and cultural identity, the BILF has created a perfect cellular unit for the modern world citizen – a structure that both incorporates and questions the concept of borders, a structure that refrains from aggressive expansion and instead aims for evolution through permeability and connectability, a structure that leads to a more humane interpersonal communication. The BILF recruitment personnel is awaiting you at “The Subcontinent Newsroom” at Art Metropole.

Eshan Rafi is a Pakistani artist and educator situated on the territories of the Haudenosaunee and Mississaugas of New Credit. They work with their body, analogue cameras, moving images, text, and other things found in the world, frequently in collaborative contexts. They draw inspiration from ancestral knowledges, decolonial frameworks and movements for liberation to open dialogues that foreground possibility. Currently their focus is on looking from Turtle Island across the ocean to Pakistan and back, as well as backwards and forwards in time and across generations. Eshan has done residencies in Karachi, St. Petersburg and Brooklyn. They were selected for the inaugural cohort of the Queer Intergenerational Artist Residency and are the regional winner of the BMO 1st art Award for 2013. Eshan’s performance looks at the porosity of geopolitical borders through interpersonal encounters. Using the fictive border of the South Asian subcontinent as a jumping off point, Eshan explores the intimate space between two people as a contested site. The artist will invite audience members to participate in a one-to-one exchange in The Subcontinent Newsroom, effectively generating a multitude of content on the shape of borders, the shade of boundaries, and the in between space of negotiation.

Jon Soske teaches African history at McGill University in Montreal. He has previously been part of curating or organizing projects such as South-South: Interruptions and Encounters (2009), Under the Umdoni Tree: The Art of Ebrahim and Omar Badsha (2010), Bonani Africa 2010 Festival of Photography (2010-11), and Christopher Cozier/Luis Jacob (2011).

Rajee Paña Jeji Shergill is an interdisciplinary artist and current Master’s student in Art History at Concordia University. Her thesis examines artworks that engage with family accounts of trauma and personal memories related to the Partition of the Indian subcontinent. She is interested in transgenerational transmission as a key interpretative lens and investigative focus within the study of historical trauma associated with the Partition. Jon and Rajee’s collaborative Work-in-Progress, explores the aftermath of the United Nation’s release of the Gandhi-Jinnah agreement. Their video traces the potential ramifications of the sub-continent’s new borders through a series of interviews conducted in South Asia and the diaspora. The result is a dialogue between conceptions of sovereignty and self, between political ideologies and accidents of personality, which reflects on the fictions of state and historical time.

Monika Löve is an architect/ designer/ researcher from Estonia interested in readings of contemporary political issues within a constructed, real or imaginary architecture. She graduated from the Centre for Research Architecture in Goldsmiths College, University of London in 2011 and continued her research in Jan van Eyck Academie, post-graduate research and production centre in 2012. Her work evolves around topics that could be summed up as “ambiguous information”. What are the wins and losses when forms of inner conflict are not allowed to represent themselves within the community that produced them? What are the remains, where are the traces, what are the narratives in this blur of information? When we talk about suspension, does this always mean elimination? Could it offer not a negative perception, but rather a moment of clarification or alternative to future progress? factAgency, a fictional news agency, is her recent work in the field of investigating these questions through representation, organization, transformation, erasure and subversion of space. Imagine… there is a place that is not wanted by countries that border it. In fact they are convinced that this place should belong to their neighbour rather than themselves. It has been created when neighbours drew a different borderline from one another and there is no basis in international law to claim this territory. Imagine… there is a border so heavily guarded that it has made any inhabitation almost impossible. This natural isolation has created an involuntary park that has become the most well preserved areas in the world. Imagine… Borders have become marginal in organizing life through passages of people, money and things. Border is not merely a geographical margin or a territorial edge, a block that obstructs, but has become a territory in itself. Instead of imaging the border as an area for disagreement, conflict and war, factAgency collects the stories of the border as a “positive zone”, playing on the liminality of its facts, truth and locality.

Meenakshi Thirukode is a storyteller, writer and artist based in New York City. She currently serves as the Director of New Media for the Bushwick Film Festival. Meenakshi has contributed for leading publications in the United States and Internationally including The Hindu Newspaper, The Fuschia Tree, Whitewall, artconcerns, Art Asia Pacific, Art India, Art and Deal Magazine, Art Journal, ArtMap Magazine (China), Of Note Magazine and Grassroots Literature Blog. Thirukode is the founder and co-curator of Project For Empty Space a non-profit public art initiative that brings socially engaged practice to abandoned and unusual urban spaces with a focus on community building and education. Thirukode served on the board of SAWCC (South Asian Womens Creative Collective) and is currently on the Christie’s Alumni Society Board, Christie’s, NYC. Meenakshi is a member of AICA (International Association of Art Critics) as well as IKT (International Association of Contemporary Art Curators).

Peter J. Hoffmeister is a New York-based artist whose work at once examines and questions various societal phenomena and ideologies in western culture. Hoffmeister’s artworks utilize various sources, including historical text, maps, architecture, and found imagery, to create paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptural installations. Hoffmeister was born on Long Island, New York in 1985 and graduated with a BFA from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2007, with a concentration in painting. He has exhibited and curated widely in New York, including at Maurizio Cattelan’s gallery, Family Business. He is a former editor of SW!PE Magazine, and is currently working on The Moonshiner, a newspaper project he co-founded with artist Jack Laughner. He is currently preparing for his first solo show at The Morris-Jumel Mansion in New York, opening in October.

Ayesha Kamal Bhatti is a practicing visual artist and an academician. She is currently a lecturer at the University of Gujrat, for the Department of Multimedia and Digital Arts, and Focal person for the MPhil programs of the School of Art, Design and Architecture. She has been working in various media from printmaking, calligraphy and theatre to video installations and animations for exhibitions and symposiums like the Culture and Democracy of Pakistan Group Show and Competition2009, SLICE Project 2011(Lahore-London), Agitprop Theatre workshop 2012 (Lahore). Meenakshi, Peter and Ayesha’s contribution to Info-Bomb is A Line in Two Tales: The Story of Dhanak and Baadal. The prodigious ripple effect of a simple gesture is felt across lives, lands, generations and through ages, not, as we are taught to believe, in the rhetoric of dispassionate recordings deemed by institutions as ‘History’. The true context of it’s rummaging through time is understood when you discover that its source lies in the most authentic of human flaws. In the case of the re-drawing of the border between India and Pakistan in 2013, one might have, to a large extent, extrapolate the implications across the political landscape. However, it is what was lost in time: the intentions of a gesture – the drawing of a line molded by the very flaws that make us who we are, that prove to drastically change how we engage this ‘History’. A Line in Two Tales: The Story of Dhanak and Baadal is a project that looks into the gesture of the line through the lives of two lovers – Dhanak and Baadal. It is a collaborative research based project that will culminate into an archive of letters, instagram images, found objects and a restored digital film that brings to light facts unearthed with regard to the first 2 years of the 2013 Border change. The archive exists as a blog titled “A Line in Two Tales: The Story of Dhanak and Baadal” and is open and accessible to the public.

Tazeen Qayyum is a contemporary miniature painter who received her BFA in Visual Arts from the National College of Arts Lahore, Pakistan in 1996. Her work has been shown internationally in both solo and group exhibitions, some of which include ‘ The Veiled’ at the Textile Museum of Canada, ‘The Rising Tide: New Directions in Art from Pakistan 1990 -2010’, Mohatta Palace Museum, Pakistan, ‘Urban Myths & Modern Fables’, University of Sydney, Australia and UTSC, Toronto, ‘A Thousand and One Days: The Art of Pakistani Women Miniaturists’ at the Academy of Art, Honolulu, Hawaii, ‘JAALA Exhibition at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum, Japan, and ‘CodeLive Metro’ at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Tazeen’s durational performance in “The Subcontinent Newsroom” at Art Metropole will be a repetitious drawing, inviting the viewer to contemplate a story told by endless movement, line and repetition. Using a single phrase in Urdu, Nasta’liq script and writing it freehand imperfectly, the artist creates sculptural forms that command a presence of their own. Zulekha is a media and Development researcher currently based in Islamabad, Pakistan. She has been working on the interesting juxtaposition of the military, media and the media audiences in the country for the past two years. Her contribution to Info-bomb is titled Military, Media and Mangoes: The Very Pakistani Conundrum. Zulekha addresses this conundrum that exists in Pakistan today, which needs to be explored in depth to unearth the failure of the media to bring about a development revolution. Despite having the freedom to broadcast without restrictions, the media instead focuses on non-issues. / /

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