Interdisciplinary- Film/media, Musician/composer, Non-Fiction writing
Zain Alam is an artist, writer, and musician based in New York City whose work explores the life of minorities and marginalized groups, particularly at moments of self-preservation, assimilation, and cultural innovation. Through histories provided and personal, his practice investigates how the act of borrowing transforms traditional notions of “authenticity” and the “auteur” in the digital age. He charts intimate relationships with archival material through sampling, improvisation, and synthesis techniques to reanimate what it means to take from another and to give back from one’s own inheritance. Described as “a unique intersection, merging the cinematic formality of Bollywood and geometric repetition of Islamic art,” his recording project Humeysha has been covered by the New York Times, Vice, and Village Voice.
At the Anderson Center, Zain worked on a new set of stripped-down, minimalist songs for solo performance that especially benefit from being composed in Tower View’s idyllic setting with feedback & exchange from his fellow artists-in-residence. Zain led a youth Field Recording Workshop as part of the Minnesota Children’s Book Festival. Zain’s workshop explored the process of producing sound collages and archives that are aesthetically ambitious and personally meaningful, while empowering them with the knowledge necessary to ethically integrate borrowing techniques in their own lives.