Zalika Azim

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Artist biography: 
Zalika Azim is a New York-based conceptual artist, archivist and curator. Conceptualizing her practice predominantly through photography, Zalika works in collage, installation, performance and sound to investigate the complexities of history, memory, locality, and the body as they relate to the construction of personal and collective narratives. A graduate of New York University, Zalika holds a BFA in Photography and Imaging from the Tisch School of the Arts and a BA in Social and Cultural Analysis focused in Africana, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Her work has been exhibited with galleries, institutions and alternative spaces within the United States and abroad including the International Center of Photography, Pfizer, 8th Floor Gallery, Diego Rivera Gallery and the Instituto Superior de Arte. Her work has been reviewed by TIME Lightbox and has been discussed in lectures and conferences including Archival Practices; Photography & Memory; Black Portraiture(s) II: Imaging the Black Body and Re-Staging Histories as well as the Colors of Photography symposium held at the Institute of Art History by the University of Zurich and the Center for Studies in the Theory and History of Photography.

Zalika is currently appointed as the Imaging & Permanent Collections Associate at the Studio Museum in Harlem, where she supports the museum’s permanent collection digitization project. She is also a Teaching Artist with Aperture Foundation’s youth program On-Sight.

Investigating the complexities of history, memory, migration and lineage, my work strives unpack the constructions of personal and collective narratives. Stemming from the discovery of my late grandmother’s practice as a photographer, my exploration of her photographs over the past several years acts as a portal for my unpacking the binaries between the real and imagined, further highlighting the power of photographic imagery and its impact on the ways in which black bodies have historically been able to author, reshape and relive visual representations.

Through my practice, I consider the ways in which traces of specific periods function as links to ambiguity and lost narratives thus contributing to historical continuities. My grandmother’s documentation of her family, friends and migration to New York from South Carolina, evokes the delicate and sometimes convoluted dance between past and present. These interests are the primary focus of several forthcoming projects focused on displacement, the body, and its relationship to the landscapes in which it occupies. In recent journeys to South Carolina, I have begun photographing the southern landscape as a way to contemplate the spiritual, mental, physical and political ramifications linked to the remigration of black American communities from urban centers such as New York, Chicago and Detroit. Through photographing the landscapes of mid to low country, I explore the connections between family stories, place and the imaginative narratives created from absent details. Considering the mass migration back south, my use of a large format camera, works to further consider the significance of the landscape to current American plights regarding migration and displacement.

Artist Website: