Exhibiting on the third floor of Pioneer Works, Tahir Karmali’s PAPER/work is a project examining the consequences of nationality, authenticity, documentation, and borders for migrant populations in Africa. To the artist – as a Kenyan citizen who has traveled extensively – paper or ‘papers’ have always been the operative in legitimizing passage. In interrogating paper’s material significance – its manufacture, as well as the embedded fibres, imagery, and textual detail of ID documents from colonial and post-independence Kenya – Karmali holds up a mirror to the processes themselves. Papermaking, a process dealing in a filtration of sorts, is a tool to re-think notions of nationality, borders, and colonial histories.
Tahir Karmali was born in Nairobi, Kenya, and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Working across photography and digital mediums, Karmali’s interests lie in narrating outlier communities: groups who live away from mainstream society, but whose existences are indelibly shaped by economic, geopolitical, and social infrastructures. He draws from his own experiences, and those derived from outlier life to assemble narratives around migratory identity. Karmali will take up his residency at Pioneer Works in the Fall.
Pioneer Works’ Residency program supports the practices of emerging and established artists and creators from a variety of fields, including visual arts, music, writing, technology, education, and science. A uniquely collaborative environment encourages cross-disciplinary dialogue and inspiration.