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Rabiya Choudhry ‘COCO!NUTS!’ 2018. Courtesy Transmission

Staring mesmerised at the paintings, I’m finding myself split into rooms like a house. All the rooms in me are peopled: the people are grimacing painfully, or leaving sad, sardonic notes. All my elements seem set on their own course, a Tower of Babel with language as rainbow. My outstretched tongue—plush as the grass where rootless snakes skate along—unfurls a note saying “sorry”. A pig, caught exactly in the house’s border, is kind of glazed and oblivious, but seems to wink back at me. The house: the shell of me that I see looking back as a face, looks at me hostile as if daubed in abuse. If I step back does this home become more public, more exposed, like a pavilion? If I squint and blur do I see the house as a ruin with a body of love stranded in its layers? 

The division of labour in my body—“BRAIN DEPT”, “EAR DEPT”, “NOSEY DEPT” etc—is how these colours mark boundaries; but a yellow eye—one of many, an intense defracted blur—weeps down into the partition of this house, a passage of tears made visible through this cross-sectional view. The cross-sections remind me of the segregation that intersectionality regards, laying bare the lines: worlds kept apart. The colours are like this, maintaining a pride of impossible coexistence, a broken rainbow: creatures like us live together in this public-facing semi-isolation; we scream at each other; tell each other how to live; call for each other; say each other’s names like prayers; children recreate their parents in scenes of impossible reverse birth-giving.

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Rabiya Choudhry ‘COCO!NUTS!’ 2018. Courtesy Transmission

Occupants are guarded, kept out of public and overdetermined inside. Outside another house—a family house or a temple—dark clouds weep (they have faces too), and inside this house a waterway runs through the body of maternal love. Eyes downcast in love, loss and prayer repeat their self-same form ever more diminutively and elliptically, like the movement between rosary beads as prayer transforms into sleep. 

So much here is labeled or presented: “Rabiya  Choudhry Presents”, “a choudhry production”; the name of the artist’s father, “MAZHAR” in sky-blue neon faces public, the Glasgow street, a heavenly blue fixed bright bluish lines into the whitish grey sky. We anticipate creation. The pieces play a scale-of-display at whose furthest end is a frontispiece for the exhibition: “COCO!NUTS!”, the concealing shell becomes the vehicle for displaying all here.

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Rabiya Choudhry ‘COCO!NUTS!’ 2018. Courtesy Transmission

Shitting and voiding into a bad heaven below full of poor, purgatorial souls (“the kids are not alright”) that is firing up into a hell above, propelling my body up and out, onto the plane of a frontispiece where everything comes into full view, presented in a single moment all at once. 


Hussein Mitha studied English Literature at the University of Manchester and Universitat Autonoma in Barcelona, and an MA in Comparative Literary Studies at Goldsmiths College. He helps to run Rattle Library, a resource for radical literature at Glasgow Autonomous Space. Recent visual work combines texts, shapes and colours in vinyl murals.