Asif Mian

Growing out of personal and collective experiences, my practice has come to respond to and reflect on the perceptions and processings of violence. I weave the autobiographical into the art historical and the sociological to create sculpture, installation, video, and performance.
The processes in my studio practice are investigative forces that allow me to confront the mysteries and problems of personal and collective histories. By deconstructing preexisting events, rituals, materials, objects, etc, I shift their perception towards the uncanny in order to create psychological space. Fusing aluminum sheeting with fabric allows me to sculpt plaid flannel, to hold time and action in a still form; embedding objects into carpet pile makes the haphazard permanent; and creating intimate portrait videos with military-grade thermal infrared cameras undermines the original intent of that technology.
Born to Pakistani immigrants and raised in Queens, NY, my upbringing has been a negotiation of east and west, of tradition and advanced technology, other and insider. It has catalyzed into a ‘double consciousness’ and a practice that merges multiple sources, demonstrating how a diasporic mind creates within liminal spaces. When I was 20 years old, my estranged father was killed in Terrell, Texas by “RAF” – the nickname I gave to the suspect who remains unidentified.
RAF has developed into a multi-chapter case study of drawing, sculpture, and rug works that
channel this “living ghost” formed from the limited eyewitness descriptions such as: red plaid shirt, shoulder length hair, a green escape truck with chrome trim.
The Meeting of RAF and Djinn continues the South Asian rug tradition, as I cut, reorganize, and splice an Afghan tribal rug into American synthetic carpeting to create a new folklore in pattern.
My rug works are informed by my time as a genetics student, applying processes like
chromosomal recombination, another form of inherited history, where two molecules of DNA swap genetic information. I’ve adapted the weaving tradition, as well as the visual narrative of Mughal and Persian miniatures, to represent the characters and legacy of the RAF event: a two-headed RAF figure is being possessed by the snakelike Djinn spirit, surrounded by 6 eyewitnesses and the escape truck.
In Islamic mythology, a Djinn is a shapeshifter that possesses a human, and can influence shame, aggression, and violence. I am interested in how mythological traditions are translated into contemporary narratives, how an undetectable force invades the psyche of its host. Taking cues from depictions of aliens in science fiction films, Djinn Entry Point uses eyewitness accounts to manifest RAF in the form of chromed liquid metal entering into a minimalist air duct.
I see chrome as classic Americana, a narcissistic instrument that speaks simultaneously to South
Asian tradition and futuristic sci-fi.
I use thermal infrared cameras for my Specter series of videos and installations. Thermal cameras are military instruments used for tracking people in a wide landscape, where the brown body is dangerously othered and made alien. I use specific materials that etherealise the image, for example opaque, plastic sheeting appears transparent like a ghost, aluminum reflects like a mirror, and water becomes a black and viscous. By making intimate images and narratives using this technology, I am trying to take some authority back from its original intent.