Originating from a prompt to two ambulance drivers in Karachi to retell recurring dreams that occur in their sleep, This Shaking Keeps Me Steady explores the permeable boundaries between memory and fiction, and between lived trauma, its recollection, and its re-enactment. First responders reflect on the aftermath of violent events, while television re-enactment actors audition for, and perform the gendered roles of victim, perpetrator, and witness in scenarios ranging from the banal to tragic. Unfolding through rituals, preparations, dreams, and performance, we never see the tragic events themselves, but catch traces of the extent to which they have been internalized by a society.
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Feb 28, 2019 at 7:30 pm
This Shaking Keeps Me Steady
With Shehrezad Maher & Mariam Ghani
This Shaking Keeps Me Steady
60 min, 2018
“This experimental approach explores the void between the pressure and emotional weight on the ambulance team and its dilution into entertainment.” Sophie Brown, Sight & Sound
“Closer to an atmospheric and experimental video essay than a documentary, Maher’s choice to fragment recollections into a non-linear narration lets us hear the neglected voices of Karachi as distinctly porous. Re-enactments staged for news media and TV dramas point to the artifice of performativity but this betrayal of reality is seemingly challenged by the ways in which memory also distorts history.” Omar Ahmed, Movie Mahal: An online film journal for Indian Cinema
“A visually striking portrait…the film explores how people remember and relive trauma—and how the repetition of graphic images of traumatic events influence our perceptions of everyday tragedies.” Pat Mullen, Point of View Magazine
Shehrezad Maher is an interdisciplinary artist who was born and grew up in Karachi, Pakistan (1988) and currently lives in New York. Her work has screened at institutions and festivals such as Visions du Réel, RIDM, the LA Film Forum, Anthology Film Archives, and Experiments in Cinema, and has been reviewed by publications such as Sight & Sound, Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism, and Point of View magazine (POV), among others. She studied visual arts at Bennington College (2011) and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Yale University (2014).
Mariam Ghani is an artist, writer, and filmmaker. Her work looks at places, spaces and moments where social, political and cultural structures take on visible forms, and spans video, sound, installation, photography, performance, text and data. She has exhibited and screened at the Guggenheim, MoMA, Met Breuer and Queens Museum in New York, and the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the CCCB in Barcelona, the Rotterdam and CPH:DOX film festivals, the Sharjah and Liverpool Biennials, the Dhaka Art Summit, and dOCUMENTA (13) in Kabul and Kassel, among others. Some of her recent texts have been published in e-Flux, Frieze, Foreign Policy, Triple Canopy, and the readers Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency and Cultural Production, Critical Writing Ensembles, Dissonant Archives, Social Medium: Artists Writing 2000-2015, and Utopian Pulse: Flares in the Darkroom. Ghani has received a number of fellowships, awards, grants, and residencies, most recently from Creative Capital, Art Matters, the 18th Street Arts Center in Los Angeles, the Schell Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law, and the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Ghani is known for projects that engage with places, ideas, issues and institutions over long periods of time, often as part of long-term collaborations. These include: critical, curatorial, conservation and creative work with the national film archive Afghan Films, since 2012, with support from the media archiving collective Pad.ma and a number of international art institutions; the video and performance series Performed Places, ongoing since 2006, in collaboration with choreographer Erin Ellen Kelly and composer Qasim Naqvi; and the experimental archive and discussion platform Index of the Disappeared, initiated with artist Chitra Ganesh in 2004, which has also become a vehicle for collaborations with other activists, archivists, artists, journalists, lawyers and scholars.
Ghani is currently a visiting scholar at the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and a fellow at the New York Public Library; in fall 2018 she will take up a faculty appointment at Bennington College.