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Art & Art History


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Monday, June 02, 2008–Monday, July 14, 2008
Gallery 400
400 South Peoria Street, Chicago, IL 60607

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“I was in Karachi on December 30th, 2006, videotaping animals being slaughter[ed] in the parking lot of our apartment building. This was the day of Eid-ul-Adha, when Muslims all over the world sacrifice animals and distribute the meat amongst their family and the poor. The tradition follows prophet Abraham ’s example, who, without questioning, took his son Isaac to the top of a mountain, closed his own eyes, and slashed Isaac ’s throat upon Allah ’s command. This was a demonstration of Abraham ’s unconditional devotion to Allah. Allah rewarded Abraham ’s fidelity by intervening to replace the body of Isaac with that of a sheep. Only upon opening his eyes did Abraham discover that the sheep had replaced his son. Isaac stood alive beside his father while the sheep shook uncontrollably, bleeding through the neck before dying.”
-Asma Kazmi

Relation-Chute is a website created by Asma Kazmi as a platform for trans-disciplinary action and the accumulation of materials, people, and ideas. The aim of The Gathering, a series of planned related events at Gallery 400, is to bring together a community of people under one roof, to participate in an exchange that happened in words and beyond words, through shared inhabited time and space.

Instigated by images of qurbani (religious sacrifice) of animals, and their resonance with images of death and destruction that circulate commonly in the media, Relation-Chute attempts to change the artist ’s relationship to pain and death by participating in the act of slaughtering animals for consumption. The method used for slaughter was Zabiha Halal, traditionally practiced by Muslims. As both a website and a series of planned public gatherings, Relation-Chute provides multiple arenas in which to contemplate the difficulty of understanding the complexities of visual images of death. The website confronts the viewer, alienated from the actual experience of killing because of his or her fragmentary sensory knowledge of the act. By implicating the viewer as a distant onlooker, the archive of photographs, videos, sound, and transcribed records of conversations invigorate dialogue about spectatorship and the singularity of the experience of pain and death.

Relation-Chute ’s public form was a manifold encounter, to be realized through hosting performances, gatherings, screenings, and lectures. These public events are grounded in the belief that the distance between a viewer and an image can be reduced through generating an aesthetic of socially shared meaning and facilitating complex and open-ended interactions between people.

Relation-Chute was commissioned as one of the projects in the 2008 At the Edge: Innovative Art in Chicago



Asma Kazmi

Relation-Chute, 2007


Asma Kazmi Head ShotAsma Kazmi (born 1978) received a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and an MFA from School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2008, Paul Ha, director of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, nominated her as one of St. Louis ’ five most promising artists in a prominent St. Louis arts and culture magazine. Her work has been exhibited and included in collections such as the University of Missouri, St. Louis; the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; Webster University; Boots Contemporary Art Space, St Louis; The Guild Gallery, New York; Galerie Sans Titre, Brussels, Belgium; Boston Underground Film Festival; Balagan Film and Video Series, Boston; Women In Film & Video/New England; and the MassArt Film Society. Asma Kazmi was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan.


Asma Kazmi

Relation-Chute: The Gathering

Gallery 400
Chicago, IL
February 24th, 2008

Relation-Chute is a platform for trans-disciplinary action and the accumulation of materials, people, and ideas. The aim of The Gathering at Gallery 400 is to overcome the visual and linguistic limitations posed for the viewer by the Relation-Chute website. The Gathering is a vehicle to bring an undefined community of people under one roof, to participate in an exchange, which will happen beyond words: through shared inhabited time and space.

WHIRLING (2:00 to 3:00 PM)

The audience will be invited to join in a twirling meditation (inspired by Turkish Sufi whirling), accompanied by a live dhol, played by Maninderpal Singh. A dhol is double-sided barrel drum, from the Punjab region of India and Pakistan, played to the Punjabi dance of bhangra and the religious music of qawwali.

About Maninderpal Singh

Born in Punjab, and raised in Canada, Maninder is an accompanist/soloist for Hindustani classical, folk, Carnatic, ghazal, and classical dance. Maninder has studied with tabla masters including Zakir Hussain, Samar Saha, Shyam Kane, and Arshid Sayed. He has performed with a variety of musicians, including Buddha Dev Dasgupta and Fareed Haque. Maninder also accompanied a traditional Sikh music group (jatha) from Toronto who have released a CD of devotional hymns (Shabad Kirtan) from the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh scripture). It also contains translations of the message of the Guru in English.


The roundtable discussion is an informal public forum to have a socially-engaged conversation about Relation-Chute. It is an attempt to bring in new faces and perspectives from various parties invested in issues as varied as contemporary art production, religion/ritual, sustainable farming, and political activism, to name just a few. Some notable scholars, artists, and activists will evoke relevant themes and shape the direction of the discussion.

The facilitators of the discussion include:
Catherine Becker- Assistant Professor of Art History at University of Illinois at Chicago.
Barbara DeGenevieve- Artist, Professor, and Chair of the Department of Photography at School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Laurie Palmer- Artist, Writer, and Associate Professor in the Sculpture Department at School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Michael Rakowitz- Artist and Associate Professor of Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University.
Lorelei Stewart-Writer, Director of Gallery 400, College of Architecture and the Arts at University of Illinois at Chicago
Faith Wilding- Artist, Theorist, Professor, and Chair of the Department of Performance at School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

LANGAR (4:30 to 5:00 PM)

Langar is a free kitchen connected to a Sikh gurdwara or a Sufi shrine. Volunteers offer time and effort to cook large meals for free distribution. These large communal meals are shared by gatherings which sit on the floor and eat. For the Relation-Chute langar, the food is being provided by Chicago Food not Bombs and TAQWA Eco-Food Cooperative.

About Chicago Food not Bombs:

We serve free vegetarian food every Saturday in Humboldt Park. We are a part of an international movement that seeks to redistribute society’s wealth so that everyone is able to survive. While our government would rather spend society’s resources on bombs and wars for oil, we believe that food is a human right that should be guaranteed to all.

About TAQWA Eco-Food Cooperative –

TAQWA is a consumer cooperative offering sustainably- and humanely-raised meats that also satisfy Muslim dietary requirements. It was started by Faith in Place and is on its way to becoming independent.

These events were cancelled.


Poster: Relation-Chute


Relation-Chute is supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; the College of Architecture and the Arts, University of Illinois at Chicago; and a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

Special thanks to the jury that selected the 2008 At the Edge projects: John Arndt (artist), Monica Haslip (Director of Little Black Pearl), Kerry James Marshall (artist and former University of Illinois at Chicago faculty member), Stephanie Smith (Director and Curator of Contemporary Art at the Smart Museum of Art), Lorelei Stewart (Director of Gallery 400), and Deborah Stratman (artist and University of Illinois at Chicago faculty member).