Qasim Riza Shaheen: Autoportraits in love-like conditions

Manchester-based artist and writer Qasim Riza Shaheen presents a major new exhibition, Autoportraits in love-like conditions. This is a show staged in two parts in partnership with mac birmingham, where a second, related body of work will be exhibited under the title The last known pose.

Autoportraits in love-like conditions includes performance, film, photography, audio recordings, drawings and mixed media, and features new commissions produced by Shaheen over a 12-month period spent in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. It will focus on silent tales of love and the connections between people, while exploring simulated moments of intimacy with strangers through imagery and role-play.

New installation Between Refrains is based upon an intergenerational dialogue between the artist and his father. It follows Shaheen’s invitation to his father to dance with him to a 1950s recording of ‘Elizabethan Serenade’ by Ron Goodwin and his Concert Orchestra. An ensemble of imagery, voice and music will play out over his father’s drawings, paintings and handwritings, revealing their candid conversations and the narrative of their relationship.

Performance work One will premiere at the exhibition preview on Friday 5 September. The piece, which was researched and developed with local residents and artists at the National Visual Arts Gallery in Kuala Lumpur, will feature repetitive thoughts, statements and actions delivered over a beat that marks the beginning and end of a time cycle. Points of arrival and departure are central to this improvisational work, and the performers will deliver the piece in a trance-like state.

Misplaced Memoirs is an intimate, site-specific scenography of desire and unrequited love, performed to three audience members at a time in the Palace Hotel in Manchester. Based on written self-portraits and delivered in an autobiographical and confessional manner, the piece will explore notions of queerness and unrequited love through stories of desire, past relationships and an expressed urgency for the ritual of marriage. Misplaced Memoirs will be newly adapted for this exhibition; a previous version was performed at the Queer Contact Festival 2012 and the SPILL Festival of Performance 2013.

In Backward Glances, Shaheen will showcase his belongings to reveal the processes behind these new works. Images of performers in simulated love-like conditions will replace the artist’s personal photographs, interrupting and reinventing these archived histories. These fictional events interrogate the nature of portraiture, authenticity and longing.

Autoportraits in love-like conditions researches the fragile architecture of the space between people, metaphysical communication and desire, attraction and reaction, the real and the imagined. By reproducing connections and moments from his own life, Shaheen reveals the universal nature of human experience. In his work we see reflections of ourselves and others whom we hold close, and the intimate experiences that define our lives.

The second half of this exhibition, The last known pose, takes place at mac birmingham from Saturday 20 September – Sunday 30 November, with a preview on Fri 19 September.

This exhibition will also be supported by a publication, produced and distributed by Cornerhouse Publications.

The exhibition preview drinks are sponsored by Absolut.