Sarmad Radio, Episode 1 - Mental health with Hamja Ahsan

In this first episode, our theme is mental health and in order to address that, we talked about introversion, the sometimes-unbearable weight of being a full-time professional artist, depression as a defense mechanism of our bodies, the 27 club and about doing absolutely nothing, both as healing and as a source of more anxiety.

Hamja Ahsan (b. 1981) is an artist, writer, activist and curator based in London and Maastricht. His practice encompasses conceptual writing, building archives, performance, video, sound and making zines. He is currently a resident artist at Jan Van Eyck Academy 2020-2021 in Netherlands. He is on the editorial board of the Radical Mental Health magazine Asylum. 

Intro music was made by Behzad Abbasy, which is a cover of Who Knows by Jimi Hendrix, a 27-clubber.

Some links to things we talk about in the conversation: BOOK Shy Radicals // Asylum magazine // DIY Cultures zine festival // Zine Camp // printroom // The article on depression // The O Show episode // and the performance artist whose name was not in the end mentioned (Tehching Hsieh)

More about Hamja Ahsan
Hamja is the author of the book Shy Radicals: Antisystemic Politics of the Militant Introvert, a work of speculative fiction about a revolutionary political party like the Black Panthers for shy, quiet, introvert and autistic spectrum peoples with a utopic homeland called Aspergistan. The book was recently made into a documentary film, which is now out in international festivals, by Ridley Scott Associates.

Hamja was recently awarded the Grand Prize at Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts 2019, curated by Slavs and Tartars for the commissioned work Aspergistan Referendum based on the Shy Radicals project.  He is the founder and co-curator of the DIY Cultures festival of creative activism, zines and independent publishing since 2013 in London. He was also shortlisted for the Liberty human rights award for Free Talha Ahsan campaign, his brother,  on extradition and detention without trial under the War on Terror. His campaign work was supported by A. L. Kennedy, Riz Ahmed and Noam Chomsky, amongst others. His recent writing was anthologised in No Colour Bar: Black Art in Action 1960-1990. He has presented art projects at PS1 MOMA New York Art book week, Tate Modern, Gwangju Biennale, Shaanakht festival Pakistan and and CCA Warsaw Poland.

Hamja is a guest lecturer in contemporary art practice and visiting artist at universities across the UK and Europe, including Goldsmiths, Royal College of Art, Artez Stadium Generale (Netherlands), Staedelschule (Frankfurt, Germany) and Oxford University. His Shy Radicals book is the syllabus on several University curriculums from Ivy League Brown University, New York University and Ghent University (Belgium).

IG and twitter: @shyradicals
BOOK Shy Radicals: Antisystemic Politics of the Militant Introvert 
Support and sustain Hamja's tours, artwork and activism
Trailer of Shy Radicals Film
Asylum magazine