Raisa Kabir| Indisposable: Tactics for Care and Mourning

Raisa Kabir, NO PROTECTION, 2020, Yarn, wool, and cotton, 20 x 24 x 4 inches each panel

Click the button below for the audio and text of the VISUAL DESCRIPTION for Raisa Kabir’s NO PROTECTION:

NO PROTECTION is comprised of six tufted squares of bright yarn arranged in two rows of three. The words “NO PROTECTION” are spelled out in block capitals across the squares, two letters per square: “NO” “PR” “OT” “EC” “TI” “ON.” Many threads are left hanging loose and the surfaces are irregular, making the letters a bit blurry. The squares are different color combinations: black on orange and purple, red on yellow and blue, navy on pink and blue. The soft, colorful yarn gives the piece a sense of vibrant, playfulness as it beams out from the galleries’ black walls. This playfulness is contrasted with a two-folded difficulty: first, the difficulty of translation on the part of the visitor where a slow and deliberate reading is required in order to piece the letters together two at a time into the words “NO PROTECTION;” and then, the difficulty of processing and sitting with the provocation that some people – especially disabled, queer, trans, Black, Indigenous, and people of color – exist without the basic protections that a liberal democracy ostensibly promises.
Raisa Kabir NO PROTECTION, 2020 Yarn, wool, and cotton 20 x 24 x 4 inches each panel

Raisa Kabir (b. 1989) (she/they) is an interdisciplinary artist and weaver based in London. Kabir utilizes woven text/textiles, sound, video, and performance in their work to materialize concepts concerning the cultural politics of cloth, labor, and embodied geographies. Their (un)weaving performances comment on power, production, disability, and the queer brown body as a living archive of collective trauma.

Kabir examines how some bodies are more valued by and for global structures of production. They interrogate the eugenic-capitalist logic that prizes young, able-bodied persons; extracts their labor at a disabling pace without the most basic support structures of healthcare, rest, and safe food and housing; and then discards them as disposable. Kabir uses textile production in her work to cite these structures, as we see in her eponymous sculpture NO PROTECTION. What do we do, Kabir asks, when we cannot look to the world around us for care and safety?

NO PROTECTION protests the pervasive and persistent failure to protect queer, trans, and disabled people of color from harm. Kabir writes that NO PROTECTION “…takes root from disability, queerness, dysfunction, and inability to process unspeakable things that were inherited trauma. It is about mourning all the times we were failed by those who were meant to protect us from harm. A collective voice – a personal action.”

Kabir also reclaims the output of weaving as allegory for, in Kabir’s words, “the ways in which marginalized communities rely–and have always relied–on support networks of care and structures of mutual aid to survive that are separate to the state.” In Kabir’s woven sculptures, the intertwined threads of weaving signify the interdependent care on which disability depends. These interrelationships are made visible and perform a disability aesthetic that resists commodification and individuation in Kabir’s House Made of Tin (a socially distanced weaving performance) commissioned for Chapter 4 of Indisposable: Structures of Support after the ADA.

Through an open call, Kabir organized and documented a public weaving performance in October 2020 created, by, for, and from BIPOC, disabled, queer, and trans participants. The result was a geometric textile sculpture created through interdependent action and care. By embodying these structures of support and mutual aid, the performance asks us to consider how labor and care are connected across all bodies and borders. In doing so, House Made of Tin (a socially distanced weaving performance) underscores a key precept of disability justice that, in Kabir’s words, “is dependent on wider society believing in, and participating in, creating access for all.” The woven sculpture collectively created by the participants evokes the bonds created that day that are figurative, literal, and ongoing; these connections reflect lessons the crip community has always had to offer others about how to joyfully connect, support, and survive.

Instagram: @raisa_kabir_textiles_