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Shah Numair Ahmed Abbasi’s practice draws on popular culture, anecdotes and colloquialisms to stage personal and social narratives in attempts to challenge the politics behind how gender is socially constructed and performed. The figure of the male nude is a recurring theme , often presented in ways that undermine or question idealized masculine virtues. Recent turns in his practice observe how queer men navigate issues related to their identity during interactions within and beyond the community, and across domestic, public, and virtual environments. He repurposes dating apps to investigate the dynamics of fragile spaces where interactions are dislocated, ephemeral, and motive-driven.

During his fellowship at the Lakshmi Mittal Institute, Abbasi will investigate the construction and performance of binary genders, sexualities, and their panoptic behavior in South Asia as rippled consequences of colonization. By utilizing the institute’s resources and analyzing the south Asian artifacts and miniature paintings at the Harvard Art Museum, Abbasi will research whether the practice, acceptance, and visibility of the spectrum of genders and sexualities pre-date colonization; and if, and how, femininity and masculinity are colonial constructs that empower more complex notions of gender, gender relations, sexuality, and desire of the binary.