I AM A BODY (Black)
I AM A BODY (Black), 2020
24 x 18 inches
Ruane Center for the Humanities, Lower Level
About the Work
Baseera Khan thinks of their own body as an archive, often riffing on historical imagery to visualize the lived experiences of intersectional identity. Khan’s I AM A BODY screen prints represent the ongoing struggle for basic human rights experienced by diverse groups. The series of artworks is a contemporary adaptation of the famous I AM A MAN protest signs from the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike. Khan tweaks the phrasing to become gender inclusive. They depict a wide range of non-White skin tones to represent BIPOC communities’ continued fights for racial justice. Khan chose the color of one of the prints based on a makeup company’s concealer match software scan of their skin tone. The channeling of information between physical and digital sources also hints at the danger of cultural generalization, even in the pursuit of solidarity. The crescent moons at top-left symbolize Khan’s own Muslim faith but more broadly represent the ongoing pursuit of religious freedom by marginalized faith groups around the world. Altogether, I AM A BODY is a selection of portraits of the body not as an individual figure but as a nexus of personal and collective politics.