Snake Game: Asif Mian, November 2019

Performance Still of “Snake Game” 2018

Responding to the subgenre of YouTube parking lot fight videos, Asif Mian recodes the hypermasculine impulses that govern these events to create an alternate interaction that belies the obvious. Performed and filmed at the Skowhegan High School parking lot in Skowhegan, Maine, Mian subverts the behavioral rules of backyard dominance into an improvised collaborative duet of react and release. By slowing down the prescribed tussle within this intimate space, the dynamic shifts from a physical struggle for power and control to an elongated caress that supports the other. The rolling and grappling become elliptical and continuous, lulling the viewer away from anticipating the money shot. The pairing of real time and reversed versions of the performance further amplifies the continuous lull, leveling the actions and struggles into a rhythmic figure 8 that loops endlessly, denying any solitary moment of “victory”.

Working at the intersection of sculpture, video, and performance, Asif Mian’s practice explores the roles that ritual, masculinity, power, and violence have in society. His varied methods have employed the splicing of rugs together as ‘event sculptures’, altering intimidation rituals for performance, and thermal (IR) cameras for video installations. The concept of hauntology and “the figure of the ghost as that which is neither present, nor absent, neither dead nor alive” is influential in the development of his RAF project.

Asif Mian (b. Jersey City, NJ) received his MFA from Columbia University in 2018, and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2018. Recent exhibitions include The SHED: Open Call (2019); RAF’s Red Plaid at CRUSH Curatorial (2019); Always, Already, Haunting, “disss-co,” Haunt at The Kitchen for the Whitney ISP curatorial fellows (2019); Lucky Draw at Sculpture Center (2019); QI 2018: Volumes at the Queens Museum International Biennial, and was recently awarded the 2019-2020 Queens Museum-Jerome Foundation Fellowship for Emerging Artist with a solo exhibit at The Queens Museum, Oct 2020.