CRUSH Curatorial is pleased to announce Asif Mian’s solo debut exhibition, RAF’s Red Plaid, the prologue to the artist’s multi-chapter project, RAF. Working at the intersection of sculpture, installation, video and performance, Mian’s practice explores how ritual, (hyper)masculinity, power, and violence shape our culture. In this new body of work, the artist takes eyewitness accounts of a personal trauma as the starting point. Comprised of drawings and sculptures, Mian’s installation interconnects the concepts of hauntology, reconstructed memory, science fiction, and genetics to form a multi-layered portrait of an unidentified assailant named RAF.
When I was 20, my estranged father was killed by an unidentified assailant in Terrell, Texas at mile 506 of the Interstate 20. The assailant, RAF, is described as having a dark complexion, so… brown. But which type of brown? Here, brown acts like gray, the shades in between the black and white binary, the color of a ghost.
RAF is a living ghost… one that exists in the gaps of the eyewitness’ loose descriptions: shoulder length hair, a red plaid shirt, five-nine, twenty-nine. But which type of red plaid? He had dark skin; they said he could be Hispanic. He could be South Asian. RAF is an ambidextrous nickname: it can be Rafael or Rafiq.
There is no straight line to identifying the assailant, but rather a karmic circle of investigative therapy towards a person of violence. Embracing this persistent variability as an exploratory channel into memory, violence, and ritual, RAF has become my shapeshifter, an image never laid to rest: red plaid morphs from one pattern to the next, skin color blurs into different shades and origins of brown.
Mark Fisher’s writing on hauntology, in particular his reference to Colin Davis’ “figure of the ghost as that which is neither present, nor absent, neither dead nor alive,” serves as a scaffold for the work. I consider the different ways that my own identities during this time - as a wrestler, genetics student, and Jungle music escapist - are accessible material used to create a fiction within the ruptures of the nonfiction. The sounds, materials, and textures surrounding the RAF unknowns haunt my personal life and decisions, allowing me to consider the violence wrought within urban diaspora communities.
RAF’s Red Plaid transforms the banal evidentiary material: a red plaid shirt, dark shoulder length hair, an aluminum construction trailer, a green dually truck, a fence in a field, mile 506 of I-20 lined with milk thistle, and the American Painted Lady butterfly. Simple and abundant, these objects and sites are implicated and made vital, activating specters within the holes of unwritten personal history, continually unraveled, bent and re-imagined through the work.
More than just a source for creating, this investigative practice has become my form of therapy. Imbued with the vestiges of RAF, the works have become powerful totems, and possibly, beacons. We all might have our own RAF -- a mystery, a force that haunts -- and need a way to karmically circle towards self therapy. This art practice of deductive myth making and surreal logic has become mine.