Atif Khan

Yawm al-Qiyamah [the Day of Resurrection]

I present an experiment.

it is said in space
there is no true ceiling or floor.
it is said in death
there is no true ceiling or floor.
it is said in life
there is no true ceiling or floor.

I write simply.

I write on death.

violence seeps into soil.
the pores of skin.
consumes light into shadow.
I think of death often.
I started to write about how knowledge is embodied and become distracted.
I come from a distant land – currently called ‘pakistan’ – consumed by creating death.
this world has built a difference out of us.
laid to death all living things.
some faster and others slower.
what happens when a soul has left a tree?
what happens when a soul has left the land?
what happens when a soul is exiled as a living death?
the land writhes, twists and convulses devastating knowledge [Madiha Tahir].
what is now dead for my eyes to see. Another dead archive.
like Billy-Ray Belcourt, I think to ancestors that would not hold me by choice.
‘canada’ like ‘pakistan’ are stories that deliver and make living death possible and very much real.
the dead must be alive.
I forbid them to die.
the purpose of a living death I think, is to leverage what is still alive in service to collective total liberation.
I often wake up every morning looking
for my own.

Knowledge is a narrative that must die.
I come from a distant land now consumed with forever death.
I search for a precise language.
I search for a specific language.
I search for language that might liberate us all.
and I search for language that could not sanction death.
will the dead ever rest?
will the land be silent

I turn to resuscitate myself.

// Surah At-Takathur 102:1 //
“competition in [worldly] increase diverts you
until you visit the graveyards”

// Assata Shakur //
“you died.
i cried.
and kept on getting up.
a little slower.
and a lot more deadly.”

// Islam //
“the point is, sometimes you have to be called more than once.
the angel called the Prophet Muhammad saying, ‘read’
Muhammad was illiterate and said, ‘I can’t read’
‘read’, the angel said again
‘i can’t read’ Muhammad said
then the angel said
‘in the name of Allah who created man from a drop of blood – read’
and it was the third time that he felt it” 

// Achille Mbembe //
“language’s function in such writing is to return to life
what had been abandoned to the powers of death”

// Asiya Wadud //
“trees empty their hearts
the parts that form
left”

I curate a story of death

I protect knowledge by remembering death.

I create space for others to live their knowledge knowing that I will die.

“My research driven practice intersects key themes of war, surveillance, death and visual studies. Broadly, I think through how the word ‘violence’ is assembled and given power in the material world by connecting objects, language, words, meaning and a specific set of archives. Khan’s broader research investigates the use of militarized drones across the United States, Somalia, Afghanistan & Pakistan.”

– Atif Khan

Atif Khan is an emerging writer and artist exploring text, image and curatorial practice.

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