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Misplaced Memoirs

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'Misplaced Memoirs' by Qasim Riza Shaheen was the outcome of a year-long artist residency at Contact in Manchester in 2011/2012. Over the course of a year, Shaheen posted a series of self-portraits in online instalments on the Contact website. This collection of imagery and text culminated in a live performance at Queer Contact Festival in February 2012 where the artist set a scenography for a limited audience to experience the work on a one-to-one basis, making for an intimate encounter with the performer and 'Misplaced Memoirs'. Notions of queerness, unrequited love and performance in the life, so far, of an artist were declared in an autobiographical and confessional manner. Shaheen explores the fluidity and transcultural nature of queer identity through stories of personal desire, past relationships and an expressed urgency for the ritual of marriage before turning 40. Furthermore, and central to the performativity of his memoirs, Shaheen invited a male model to re-enact the moments of his personal history, thereby foregrounding both a play of identities being exchanged and the transferability of ownership of shared private incidents and sacred memories. Borrowed interpretations and the staging of the lived and the trespassed within the narratives propose a reimagining of personal history and how the embodied as archive can be interchangeable. With his 'Misplaced Memoirs', Shaheen publicly discloses his personal voice as an act of self-distribution through which he attempts to redraw the ethical boundaries both between his own private and public spaces and between his queer identity and his religiosity.

Keywords: autobiography; performance art; queer identity; self-portraiture

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Artist, writer and educator

Publication date: August 9, 2012

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  • Performing Ethos is a refereed, interdisciplinary journal which considers ethical questions relating to contemporary theatre and live performance. Global in scope, it provides a unique forum for rigorous scholarship and serious reflection on the ethical dimensions of a wide range of performance practices from the politically and aesthetically radical to the mainstream.
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