A sign reads "By-Faith" in black text on brass metal tiles.
Image: Baseera Khan, By Faith poster image. Courtesy of the artist.

Baseera Khan

By Faith

On View: September 11-October 11, 2020

The Kitchen at Queenslab

Treatment for a television pilot:

Baseera Khan is an artist who has lived in Crown Heights for 10 years. Early this spring, Baseera finally moved furniture into the space, cleaned up clutter, and felt motivated to cultivate a social life, maybe even evaluate intimacy issues, and perhaps start dating. It’s been 4 years since they were divorced. Then the pandemic hit and “shelter in place” put a wrench in that for the foreseeable future. Now, Baseera is prone to talking to their kitchen knives and vegetables, prone to nodding off and daydreaming that they are hanging out with friends: eating, walking, sleeping at the beach.

Baseera's success has always felt like “failing upwards” instead of innately earned. They are haunted, questioning their own legitimacy, if they deserve not just a seat at the table, but their own dining room table. This feeling, a systemic issue, is often felt in the BIPOC artist communities. Achieving love and balance seems like a radical act, instead of just striving for a “normal” life. However, because everyone in the world is isolated now, is Baseera somehow doing better during this pandemic, uprising, and economic crisis? As we see Baseera preside over their apartment, we start to understand that the world we are experiencing is all in their head.

During a residency through The Kitchen at Queenslab, Baseera Khan will begin work on a pilot for a television show. In collaboration with a community of close friends, Khan will stage, direct, and perform scenes based on intimate, real-life conversations and situations. By creating a modular film set that replicates their own apartment, Khan cultivates comfort amongst their performers/friends and collapses the parallel realities of the often-lonely domestic life and abundant online social life that many are experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The process of creating the pilot will be made public from the rehearsal phase through to the filming and editing of scenes. Online audiences are invited to tune in to rehearsals from September 11 through 13 and September 18. Livestreams will capture the rehearsals as they unfold in real time with unmediated dialogue via surveillance-style, silent footage in order to maintain the privacy of the performers as they freely share personal opinions. Following this period, Khan and Director/Producer Ethan Weinstock will create scripts based on the extemporaneous conversations. Khan and Weinstock will film these scenes with the performers and cinematographer Chris Wairegi from September 19 through 20 and 25 through 27, and these shoots will be livestreamed from the vantage of the on-set cameras. The residency culminates with Khan editing this footage and releasing rough cuts of selected scenes online between September 27 and October 11.

In Residence at Queenslab: September 11–October 11, 2020

Livestream Rehearsals: September 11–13 and 18

Livestream of Film Shoots: September 19–20 and 25–27

Rough cuts of selected scenes to be released after September 27

Featured performers: Brandon E. Burton, Vaginal Davis, Lia Gangitano and T De Long, Rico Gatson, Logan Jardine and Ethan Weinstock, Baseera Khan, Munira Lokhandwala, Amy Sillman

Curated by Lumi Tan.


Baseera Khan: By Faith is made possible with commissioning support from Marta Heflin Foundation; annual grants from Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, and The Cowles Charitable Trust; and in part by public funds from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.