Shahir Singh

Artist Catalogue

Virtual Exhibition

The Upstairs Room

A gun drawn from a handbag, in an empty parking lot. A menacing figure approaching. The kitchen scissors in my hand. Long strands of hair, now limp on the bathroom tiles. Mould spreading. Silence.

On a sunny morning I decided to take a walk to the supermarket. As I walked through a deserted parking area, a woman approached me. She introduced herself and requested money. I explained that I had no cash on me and asked her to stop following. She proceeded to draw a gun from her handbag and threaten me. The police were dismissive about the mugging upon finding out that the assailant was a transgender woman. This experience left me feeling discouraged from relying on the authorities. Shortly after the mugging, I was stalked on multiple occasions in a shopping mall. The stalker was an older man who would wait till I was alone and make comments about his attraction to me. Remembering my previous interaction with the police, I felt that reporting him to the security would be pointless. I found myself developing an anxiety towards leaving my apartment.

Following the series of traumatic events, I did not leave my living space for two weeks. I repeated a cycle of staying in bed, staring in silence at a ceiling that had started to grow mould.  I was convinced that my appearance led to the events that played out, and cutting off all my hair would result in never having to experience what had happened again. After my hair was no longer a part of me, a looming feeling of loss and discomfort followed shortly after. The hair had made its presence in the space known. Even after sweeping it up and containing it in a plastic bag, traces of the hair remained throughout. I was unable to get rid of it. As I lay in bed it poked my skin through my clothing. I was unable to forget about it. Reality started to blur as distorted figures began occupying the corners of this space. I felt both my mental health and living space deteriorating.

I thought that if I allowed myself to ignore and mask what happened, I would be able to move on. However, I felt my conscience being haunted instead. My work decides to revisit what I once refused to confront by making use of the memories available to me. I take control of my experience with the authorities, by using police identikit drawing methods to visually reconstruct the memory of my perpetrators. These are displayed amongst the memories of being confined to my apartment, which tend to manifest as both disturbing and disorganised. To piece these memories together, I desperately and repetitively document them through a variety of mediums, connecting them to each other and myself. 

Through combining these various methods of making that I have used to process my trauma, I have created a space that allows for the navigation of my mental landscape.