a language where yesterday and tomorrow are the same word. Kal.

11/09/2020 — 31/12/2021

Design: Aziza Ahmad / Archive Books

… a language

where yesterday and tomorrow

are the same word. Kal.

A trans*oceanic platform for slow approaches, performative interventions and poetic strategies in visual and literary forms, kal traces, imagines and enacts queer futures and pasts that are connected through bodies of water lapping at different shorelines – the Arabian Sea in Karachi, the Indian Ocean in Colombo, the tidal merge of the Atlantic and Shannon river in the West of Ireland, the Pacific in North America and the River Spree in Berlin. Gathering artists and writers from South Asia, the South Asian diaspora and post-migrant Europe, kal unfolds from fall 2020 through winter 2021 in multiple strands:

* gatherings and co-productions in Berlin, Colombo and Karachi, beginning with a studio and research grant at District Berlin (for the open call click here)
* a publication series and connected radio podcasts
* performances in public spaces with online transmissions
* an evolutive tidal scenography / exhibition

Inspired by the tangled temporalities in kal  – past and future, unseperable, unfixed and uttered as one – a line from Fatimah Asghar’s poem Kal (in: If They Come For Us In The Morning, 2017) gifts our collaborations with more than a title:

Allah you gave us a language
where yesterday and tomorrow
are the same word. Kal.

A spell cast with the entire

mouth. Back of the throat

to teeth. Tomorrow means I might

have her forever. Yesterday means
I say goodbye, again.

Kal means they are the same.

The small Urdu-Hindi word kal moves fluidly and shifts based on who speaks and from where and when. kal then is a queer word that cannot be fully explained, denoting ephemerality and transience. The present which forms kal in our mouths speaks through languages, imaginaries and practices of the future and the past. The unsettled radical futures of yesterday and tomorrow that we desire and look forward to make happen pass between inside and outside along the movement of tongues.

As kal unfolds in current pandemic time and amidst deep ecological and social transformations, so does our shared language and programming. In response to the times and places we live in, kal continues, deepens and expands existing conversations and collaborations between Karachi, Los Angeles, Colombo and Berlin:

In late Summer 2019 the project Is It Possible To Live Outside Of Language? (IIPTLOOL) curated by Aziz Sohail in Karachi, initiated space by and for queer practitioners exploring connections between language, queerness and the city. From here, a thematic strand of kal focusing on queer muslim futurisms is developing to cross-connect queer futurist imaginaries that find new ways to interrogate and counter ever more hostile racist and Islamophobic societies between Karachi, California, Colombo and Berlin.

Queer muslim futurisms as proposed by artist and performer Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is “a growing creative movement of artists from Muslim and Muslim-adjacent backgrounds… Like the Afrofuturists from whom the name of our movement is derived, we look to our multiple histories, cultures and legacies, which we cut up, carve, copy, corrupt and then cast into a future of our own imagining.“

Since 2016, the The Many Headed Hydra (TMHH) has initiated and published queer*feminist and decolonial research, art making and writing with a focus on queer ecologies, myth making and situated practices in lived relationships with bodies of water. Across 2019 TMMH has been active within temporary and continuing formations with artists, activists and writers from Colombo and Karachi (nurtured by Colomboscope and IIPTLOOL).

The fabulation and remembering of ecologies after patriarchy, capitalism and gender and of rituals for re-embodying the unknown/forgotten/erased, engaging the animate residues of colonialism and cherishing troubled sensualities and eco-erotics are flowing into the collective making of kal.

is organized by the curator, writer and researcher Aziz Sohail and The Many Headed Hydra at District Berlin, in collaboration with Archive Books as well as art spaces and feminist initiatives in Colombo and Karachi. kal is supported by the Department for Culture and Europe in the Berlin Senate, the Goethe Institut Karachi and ifa.