Shama Khanna is an independent curator, writer and educator from London. Working within the UK and internationally over several years Shama has curated numerous artists’ projects and commissions both independently and as part of collaborations with organisations including: The Showroom, Goldsmiths University of London, Jerwood Visual Arts, Camden Arts Centre, London, P.S. 1 and PERFORMA in NYC and Documenta14 in Athens.
Shama curates the long-running platform Flatness and the artists’ moving image series, Non-Linear. Both projects learn from artists’ practices in order to address the artistic, structural and the material conditions and possibilities of working immaterially. Screening and discussion events have taken place at venues including: Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen; Chisenhale Gallery and Auto Italia in London; Palais de Tokyo in Paris; Moderna Museet, Malmö; Rietveld Academie and LIMA, Amsterdam; Western Front, Vancouver; Microscope, New York; Rupert, Vilnius; warehouse, Berlin; LUX Scotland and CCA, Glasgow.
Shama has contributed to Afterall, NANG, Art Monthly, The White Review, Tongues, LUX and Aorist, co-edited with 7 other writers. Khanna is currently a Trustee of not/ nowhere cooperative, a Visiting Lecturer at Royal College of Art and curator-in-residence at Afterall.
Flatness is a long-term research and commissioning project begun in 2013 addressing the conditions of working semi-digitally whilst exploring the potentials of art distributed via networked screens to express and share subjective and collective desires within the professionalised art world.
In 2019 the Flatness website re-launched with a new design and a programme of long and short-form commissions by artists Lucy Clout, Adam Farah, Natasha Lall, Ulijona Odišarija, TextaQueen, Tom Richards, Nikhil Vettukattil, Joseph Walsh, Dan Walwin and Rehana Zaman and writers Taylor Le Melle, Nisha Ramayya and Hannah Satz.
(The Blessing of the Pisces Rising, Natasha Lall)
Flatness learns from artists’ practices in order to address the artistic, structural and the material conditions, desires and possibilities of working immaterially. The aim of this multi-format project is to reconstitute the relations under which artworks are produced and framed: aiming to reduce feelings of exhaustion, overexposure and compulsion and increase opportunities for creativity and dialogue, as much as possible on the contributors’ own terms. Drawing on pre-Web 2.0, decentralised online histories combined with a reflexivity towards the motivations of artists working semi-digitally, Flatness presents a porous context for artworks to be shared as part of a genuinely networked culture.
For Thirteen Ways of Looking curator Sylvia Theuri will collaborate with Flatness exploring the website as a space of ‘decentring’ or removing from the centre socially normalised dominant modes and narratives, as well as challenging the traditional presentation of artwork in gallery spaces.
The digital space as a site of resistance are key themes explored through Shama’s work, these themes are ever more pertinent now given the way in which the pandemic has created an extreme push for people to work online, in digital spaces and with digital media.
For Thirteen Ways of Looking Shama has written a critical research piece about Flatness available to read here which Sylvia will respond to with some her own thoughts discussing her interest in working with Shama.
(Screenshot of Flatness)
‘Flatness is the stillness before making, potentiality, but also the point of exhaustion when your mind and body are in recovery, conserving energy.
In many ways, the ethos behind Flatness has completely evolved, from its beginnings in 2013 to now, so that its present iteration may even go to disavow some of my original motivations …’
Read ‘State of the Union’ Shama’s text for Thirteen Ways of Looking, below