The Way You Are is The Way You Are (The Soft Rains of England)

Sadly the weather was against us last week when it came to the 'In Conversation' event that I was due to take part in with artist Phill Hopkins and curator of his current retrospective exhibition 'X' at LeftBank, Leeds - Si Smith.  We are hoping to revisit this idea at some point in the near future, only without snow. I will keep you posted here in the Studio Journal as to where this idea goes. 

In the meantime the new programme of activity and exhibitions here at BasementArtsProject begins on Friday 16th March at 7.30pm with  The Way You Are is The Way You Are (The Soft Rains of England). Recently Khan gave a presentation as part of the Slate Social at York Theatre Royal which gives some of the background as to where his performance / exhibition will be going here at BasmentArtsProject later this month, some of this is presented as this week's studio  journal entry.

To keep up with the goings on at BasementArtsProject follow us on Twitter @BasementArtsPro and use #BAProgramme2018 (You can also see an archive of posts about previous years going back as far as #BAProgramme2014) For a full Archive of project details right back to the beginning in April 2011 visit 

Bruce Davies | March 2018

The Monad of Motherhood (2017-18): Sohail Khan

The Monad of Motherhood (2017-18): Sohail Khan

The Way You Are is The Way You Are (The Soft Rains of England)

" Where are we going ?

Where did we come from ?

Why did we happen ?

Where are we now ?

And to what do we belong?

and to whom are we doing it to ?....

....that is what this work is about. (The Soft Rains of England.) The big and small questions coming out of the big and small stories  which then works upon an individual who makes something that then makes them an artist...." Sohail Khan SLATE presentation Theatre Royal York 24/02/16

" I come out of a different frame, that frame relates to stories that don’t exist in the neat tropes, themes and intellectual and historical properties of what we may like to call the dominant culture."  Sohail Khan. Cape Point. Gambia. Inscribe Literary  Festival 2008 prior to performing his seminal  Live Art work " Who is the Ninka Nanka?"

                                                                                                                        ....Writing this now,  as I write at this very moment, I am on a bus passing a poster on the street of the actor Gary Oldman as Churchill advertising the Film of that name. The strap line -" The movie we need right now ! "  

We love the fiction of a good biography. We love fiction dressed up as a story and sold back to us as a reality. So we can feel better about ourselves and our histories. We the English with our soft rains and our shop keepers, our village fetes, immigration worries and our heroic Brexiters. We love our made up landscape of heritage, fake nostalgia and moribund sentimentality :

" ...standing on my beach

I can protect nothing

From those who want to come into

My sacred realm on a stick.

For all the stories of our gallantries

And our mixed affectations for our histories

Makes us feel better about your murder

and all we will say

is that it was not my fault ."

            Keen Gardeners Gift Set " Heritage Park" From the Album " Keep Digging."

                                       We love a solid biography...we love a good old story...a good old knee's up....

This Work is not about me. Not really. But it comes through me from another space and place and it is an offering.  It is a proposition and probably also, as is this text, a provocation.

 I dislike the all about me Art" ..." The all about me Poetry."  The confessional narratives tropes of story-time dressed up as the unbiased and solely objective " News." and the " True Life." block buster's. This is what I hear from the teachers, producers, makers and players of culture...This is what those folk tell me. That this "All about Me" is what art, entertainment and culture- (All these three of these things are now interchangeable.) - should be all about "nowadays" for an audiences engagement.  Cultural Work or product that pretends to understand and identify with your pain, your story and your life experience.  Product that is plastic as well as fake and of course as disposable as last year's phone.  

Works which work by tapping into a commoditised, personalised aspect of  the "individual" through creating a spurious personal  relationship with  the You. And even worse in that process replicates the myth that You as the Consumer have some agency in all this.

" Artists as special kinds of people?... we have to rid of all that crap."

                               Brian G. Gilson commenting on this writing as a draft that Sohail Khan had just left on Brian's kitchen table at his home in Hull prior to their collaborative  performance at Ground in Hull on that evening of the 25th of February 2018


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   Brian G Gilson and Sohail Khan performing "SOCO-APOCO" at Ground in Hull on the evening of the 25th of February/ 2018.

Brian G Gilson and Sohail Khan performing "SOCO-APOCO" at Ground in Hull on the evening of the 25th of February/ 2018.

But yes in truth, this Work, the one I am on about and all that it feeds into. All that it comes from and all its antecedents  they are indeed from the personnel. -How else does One make work?  Indeed how else can I / We exist in life?

This Work, the performance on the 16th of March at Basement and the exhibition afterwards, sans my presence. It was born from some other history, counter narratives and understory's and thus operates as a concept of interrelating pattern in order to work through to the transpersonal.  It flows from the past through me like a confluence of streams turning into rivers through the landscape of all my ancestors into speculations regarding this great Nation(s) tenuous futurity into the ocean of the unknown.

I. In terms of the audience and in a purely performative sense with of course no direct real risk or  threat to anyone. I Intend the old broken promise of Art; to " take no prisoners." Least of all myself in this "take no prisoners" matter.

That statement is me framing myself as the artist and thus being framed by you as a historical being. Because, purely and only in the context of this Work as the artist and as the performer I came from and come out of another place, space as well as out of another time.

And  finally my kind and potential audience person. If the words above describing the working of this work and performance that will frame it. Do for you not equate. If indeed all these words make no sense to you at all.

The only way you will find out to make your sense of all this. ( That is if you are interested ...which of you don’t have to be.) - is of course to... "Come and See."

Sohail Khan Huddersfield 27/02/2018

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