‘Safarnama,’ 2020 Saraab (Omer Wasim and Shahana Rajani)

A sound piece tracing the textures and toxicities of air.

Invoking the presence of jinns to explore the textures and toxicities of air, Safarnama (2020) activates natural and sacred worlds to pay attention to the intimacy of toxic colonialisms. Borrowing its name from and referencing the history of travel literature produced in the Islamic world, Safarnama traces the journey of a jinn traveling through the emerging, extractive infrastructures of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. We turn to these otherworldly beings of air and fire to disrupt colonial protocols of seeing and knowing, to rewire our experiential modes, and to stretch open the possibility of witnessing at a time of heightened policing and repression. The jinn that we seek challenges the state project of erasure. Subsisting below the threshold of official state narratives, the jinn attunes us to the entanglements between sacred, human and ecological worlds. 

The narration in Safarnama references the following sources: Anand Taneja, Jinnealogy: Time, Islam and Ecological Thought in the Medieval Ruins of Delhi (Delhi: Stanford University Press, 2018); Nishat Awan and Zahra Hussain, “Conflicting Material Imaginaries,” New Silk Roads, e-flux (January 2020), online; David Abrams, “The Remembering and Forgetting of the Air,” Storytellers before Dawn: An Anthology, eds. Juddha Su and Mi You (2018); an interview conducted by Dr. Hasan Ali Khan who generously shared it with us; and Robert Lebling, Legends of the Fire Spirits (New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd, 2010).

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Produced by:
Curated by:
14/12 2020
Saraab (Omer Wasim and Shahana Rajani)
Safarnama, 2020
Sound piece, 2020
23 min 20 sec
Sound design and audio mixing by Mudassir Sheikh
Music played by Taj Mohammad and Abdul Hameed Baloch
Commissioned and produced by KHOJ International Artists' Association and Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21) for st_age
  • Sustainable cities and communities
  • Climate action