PAPERwork

PAPERwork installation st IPCNY (2019)
102 Sheets of Handmade paper pulped from photocopied government-issued identification documents
and commercial paper; with aluminum mesh, photocopy collage, rust transfer, and other mixed media
collage. Dimensions – Variable
Usnea, 2019,
14ft x 8ft x 3ft

Asylum application forms, Mosquito netting, Cinder blocks, and steal, 
All small sheets of paper: 13in x 23 in
Handmade paper pulped from photocopied government-issued identification documents and commercial paper; with aluminum mesh, photocopy collage, rust transfer, and other mixed media collage.



Papermaking involves filtration of pulp, in this case, recycled documents, from water, mirroring how documents are used in border separation. A metaphor used to trigger questioning around the notions of authenticity, nationality, borders, colonialism, and history. I pull from my own application documents for the visas I need to travel the globe as a Kenyan citizen, copies of my family’s documents, and blank asylum application documents.


I started this project as a way to make sense of what nationality meant to me and how my life was contingent on the borders I was born between. Initially, I began by looking at ID documents from my father’s family that migrated to Kenya from North India in the 1890s. I became interested in the paperwork and how these documents changed after Kenyan independence in 1963. 

PAPERwork installation (STRONGROOM)
-Newburg NY
Handmade paper pulped from photocopied government-issued identification documents and commercial paper; with aluminum mesh
11ft x 35ft x 8ft

While I was doing this research, I began my artist visa application for the US. While sifting through these old documents of my family and my own visa application documents, I realized how much paperwork had authority on how my family and myself and how this practice of applying national immobility had colonial roots.

Contingent_02 copy
My Contingent, 2019
Handmade paper and cotton skim 6’ 6” x 23” x 7’
PaperWork02
macdowell_10
Detail of PAPERscreen
PAPER:landscape, 2017
Handmade paper pulped from Xeroxed government-issued identification documents and commercial paper; with aluminum mesh, Xerox collage, rust transfer, and other mixed media collage
Installation dimensions variable 
All small sheets of paper: 13in x 23 in
Handmade paper pulped from photocopied government-issued identification documents and commercial paper; with aluminum mesh, photocopy collage, rust transfer, and other mixed media collage.

tahirKarmali_Paperwork_01
Blood at the Border I, 2018 
Relief ink and rust transfer on handmade paper with cotton linter
72 × 48 inches