Basir Mahmood

Multiple works

Moon-sighting, 2019
Single-channel video, duration: 37 min 48 secs
Power Between Weak, 2014
Single-channel video, duration: 3 min 45 secs
Monument of Arrival & Return, 2016
Single-channel video, duration: 9 min 36 secs

Under the high arches of Lahore’s railway station, trudge about its Kullis. The Kullis were luggage-carriers and porters in England, and came to Lahore when the British brought railways to the Indian subcontinent in the 1800s. Here, the porters shed their skin, became Indian, put on red shirts which sew numbers into their bodies, and became Coolies. In the far old age of 1947’s summer, the British stopped flagging their own trains, and left the subcontinent. The Coolies, now, became Kullis. Soon, the trains stopped breathing smoke, electric wires webbed over the Kullis and their skins oranged. The artist worked with the Kullis of Lahore’s railway station, whom he saw and observed while growing up in the same city. He saw the Kullis as persons who move but do not go. To make the work, artist only sent the instructions. The work was made in the absence of the artist, who was away waiting for the work to be made and delivered.

Moon-sighting commissioned by the University of Leeds and the National Science and Media Museum, Bradford with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council