What I am Reading Now…
Straddled between social bubbles, the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 forced me to live more itinerantly, demanding more versatility from everyone implicated in my life. The works of fiction I present here resonated with me recently because they are imbued with the sort of mindful agility that I believe is essential to sustaining an art practice during this tumultuous time.
I am into fantasists who can arrest and transform barriers to speak beyond their respective subjectivities, offering genuinely edifying forms of interdependence in their worlds. These texts bear testimony to the risk-taking necessary for radical re-storying. Myths are renewed convivially through the idea of fiction as protest. Traumatic wounds aren’t simply erased, but take on the appearance of keloids, gradually becoming more monstrous and complex in processes of becoming. They confront and work through emotions caused by dispossession and dislocation.
Much of what I seek in fantasy fiction has been nurtured by the critical work of Toni Morrison (Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination, 1992) and Edward Said (Orientalism, 1978). If the imagination is a battleground, we need to understand that fantasies of race, difference and darkness do influence polices of oppression. Fiction and reality do converge.
By embracing practices of associative and mutative thinking, I hope the range of fantasies presented here encourage approaches to reading and writing that bolster a daring, imaginative and considerate syncretism; beyond the noise of black and white politics.
Hardeep Pandhal lives in Glasgow and works predominantly with drawing and voice to transform feelings of disinheritance and disaffection into generative spaces that bolster interdependence and self-belief. Applying practices of associative thinking, his research-led projects exhibit syncretic strains of post-brown weirdness. Hardeep Pandhal received an MFA from Glasgow School of Art in 2013 and his work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including, most recently: Goldsmiths Centre of Contemporary Art (2020); Tramway, Glasgow (2020); New Art Exchange, Nottingham (2019); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2019); South London Gallery, London (2018); New Museum, New York (2018).
Promethea, Alan Moore (DC Comics, 2000)
Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin (Parnassus Press, 1968 – 2001)
Empire of Sand, Tasha Suri (Orbit, 2018)
The Deep, Rivers Solomon (Hodder Paperbacks, 2019)
The City in The Middle of The Night, Charlie Jane Anders (Macmillan, 2019)