Tomorrow We Inherit The Earth: The Alif Series (Performance)

Alif Para La Revolución, performance Asian Art Museum, Photo by KaliMa
Alif Para La Revolución as performed in the Asian Art Museum for APAture 2017, photo credit KaliMa Amilak

The Alif Series – an extension of Tomorrow We Inherit the Earth – explores histories of violence, resistance and guerrilla warfare in the larger Muslim world through a mix of live performance, as well as video.  These histories are filtered through a queer future historical re-telling.  Ghosts and creatures evolved to fight in this rebellion intertwine with Faluda Islam, one of the revolution’s first martyrs, a drag queen turned fighter in a global queer and trans uprising against Western Imperialism.

Faluda Islam is resurrected through wifi technology, she is a zombie and she constantly oscillates between life and death as the story unfolds. Her life in itself is a retelling of the death of my father Mir Murtaza Bhutto who was killed by police outside our home in 1996.

Borders of all kinds are destroyed and hybrid languages, cultures and identities begin to form as Faluda begins to collaborate with other specters from this eerie and unknown world .  The performances plays out in a series of iterations or chapters, even episodes going back and forth in time and geography and building on the narratives that came before.

The name, The Alif Series, come from the first letter of the word inqilab, meaning revolution in Arabic, Urdu and Farsi. Alif also holds great meaning in the Muslim world, it is the first letter of the Arabic alphabet and the first letter of the word Allah. It is often used as a poetic symbol of unity and new beginnings.


Alif Para La Revolución

The title of the project takes on the word Revolution and translates it into Arabic and Spanish, languages used by two of the most targeted Immigrant communities in the U.S.  Similar to standard alphabet books A is for apple and so on, instead of R is for Revolution, languages are mixed together in this new world and separated identities begin to intersect. In this reality: Alif is for the Revolution.

Performed at the Asian Art Museum, SF, CA and as part of the Kuir Bogotá Festival both in 2017

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The Alif Series: They told us to wear Masqs 

They Told us to Wear Masqs is a collaboration between Faluda Islam (Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) and jose e abad.  Faluda Islam has died and is in need of resurrection, as well as healing from her traumatic death.  jose e abad, a creature from another world is summoned to exhume her body, still enclosed in its kaffan, or death shroud and bring her back to life.

The success of the revolution caused a major planetary shift and apocalypse but nothing the fighters can’t handle, they have been through many apocalypse in the form of drone warfare, an unending war on terror and repetitive disastrous interventions by Western armies.

The world they are now living in is toxic beyond belief and masks are necessary for the survival of most living creatures.  The two interact in a ritual of solidarity beyond the binaries of race, culture and religion, it is crucial for their continued survival.

jose e abad resurrecting Faluda Islam, photo by Dierdre Visser. Venue: SafeHouse For the Arts, 2018.
Faluda Islam’s Resurrection, photo by Dierdre Visser. Venue: SafeHouse for the Arts, 2018.

Tomorrow We Inherit the Earth: Performing Queer Muslim Futures

Part of the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Sanctuary City Series and held at The STUD, a historic gay bar in San Francisco, this iteration brought together multiple voices interested in imagining a radical future of black and brown bodies centered in the Muslim World.  The event was followed by a dance party by Discostan.  Resistance through joy and celebration was at the heart of this showcase, which served as a public rehearsal for Tomorrow We Inherit the Earth: The Queer Intifada, which will premier at Counter Pulse June 20-22 2019.

Performances by Luke Mendoza, Faluda Islam, Maryam Farnaz Rostami, Hushidar Mortezaie and Arshia Haq

Costumes by Saba Taj and Hushidar Mortezaie

Music and Soundscapes by Laila Nur and The Muzlimz

Video by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

Performance by Saba Taj and video by Lailatul-Qadr
Arshia Haq and Discostan after party


Alif is For A(n)nals

“Our work/world initiates in the aftermath of our envisioned global queer revolution of apocalyptic proportions. Flaring up in the Middle East and the African continent, this uprising eventually made its way to the center of the plutocratic, apathetic empire – the United States – spreading first like wildfire from the thousands of redlined neighborhoods of black Americans. Having successfully dismantled Western imperialism, ecoterrorism, colonial-settler projects and white supremacy, new leaders emerge in this blighted terrain.

Faluda Islam (Zulfikar), a bearded Muslim drag queen guerrilla warrior was one of those martyred, killed by American-backed rebels and, miraculously, resurrected using Wifi technology. Her resurrection confuses the borders of time, asks us to suspend our expired mythos for her arrival. Her survival is contingent on Black Bussy (Gabriel), a night/mare born at the ruins of the Stud Bar in San Francisco, and jose, a necromancer and re/cycler, as no future can ever truly be a simple, solitary project.

What does the world post-radical-liberatory-revolution look like when its players are queer as fuck, high femme, high glamour and more extra than terrestrial? Do we make the same mistakes with each other or do we correct the pains inflicted on us by those who came before: straight white men with a narrow sense of fashion, politics, desire, time and space? This dystopia emerges from the Quran and the Day of Judgement, symbolism associated with the Arabic letter Alif, storytelling traditions in South Asia and the Middle East, Afrofuturism and memories.

Most importantly, however, these past-futures are a distorted way of returning us to our predecessors, those wound up in the movement of the 1950s, -60s and -70s, in which Black radicalism reigned in black leather and the Islamic bloc of nations held less of a religious identity and more a leftist and anti-imperialist one. Many blamed the death of these movements on the neo-liberalism or neo-conservatism of the 1980s (and are they really that different?), but could a simpler reason have been heterosexual hubris? ”

Writing by Gabriel Christian published in InDance (Black Bussy)
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Gabriel Christian as Black Bussy, video by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
jose e abad and Gabriel Christian in Alif is for An(n)als, photo by Robbie Sweeny, Counter Pulse, San Francisco 2018
jose e abad and Gabriel Christian performing in front of video designed by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, photo by Robbie Sweeny, Counter Pulse San Francisco, 2018

Remembering Alif

Faluda Islam is resurrected and has come back to life and our time to showcase an archive of the revolution yet to come.  This site specific performance parodied the de Young museum’s archive consisting of a problematic past and a contemporary fashion exhibition, showcasing modern Muslim women’s fashion.

In collaboration with Hushidar Mortezaie (costume and performance)


Video documentation by Salina Nasir