last updated Dec 2021
My name is Zainab Aliyu (f.k.a. zai) like and I am an artist and cultural worker living in occupied Lenapehoking. My work is about the material affect of the "immaterial." I contextualize the cybernetic and temporal entanglement embedded within societal dynamics to understand how all sociotechnological systems of control are interconnected, and how we are all implicated through time. I draw upon my body as a corporeal archive and site of ancestral memory to craft counter-narratives through built virtual environments, printed matter, video, archives, installation and community-participatory (un)learning. more...

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present engagements

directing design and creating archives for moving image and time-based media for the African Film Festival at the Film at Lincoln Center [New York, NY] (Feb 2020 — ongoing)

co-organizing an experimental artist-run school in New York City supporting interdisciplinary study in art, code, hardware and critical theory called the School for Poetic Computation [New York, NY] (Jan 2020 — ongoing)

past engagements

shared "AncestryandMe: DNA Processing Kit," a community resource for learning about ancestral history within the context of biometric surveillance/DNA tracing technology, on Montez Press Radio [New York, NY] (Nov 2021)

presented "death as a moment of radical continuity" at "digital networks, aesthetics and black death" panel during black portraitures: Absent/ed Presence [Toronto, Canada internet] (Oct 2021)

organized and supported teaching ancestryandme, a class focused on critical approaches to DNA analysis and biometric surveillance, at the School for Poetic Computation, with american artist [New York, NY internet] (Jul 2021 — Aug 2021)

co-organized COCOON, an experimental summer curriculum exploring the history and poetics of math, critical approaches to biometric surveillance, the craft of reading and writing, being loving and loved online and the augmenting of reality, at the School for Poetic Computation [New York, NY internet] (Jul 2021 — Aug 2021)

exhibited "google my memories" at black beyond: origins [internet] (Jun 2021 — Nov 2021)

spoke about the transformative processes of textile and code at CHAT (Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile) [Hong Kong, China] (Apr 2021)

provided conceptual consultation for Shaper of God a project by american artist commissioned by Kadist [internet] (Apr 2021)

experimentally published non-linear poem "affirmations for my existence" on reading machines [internet] (Jan 2021)

shared The Dictionary of Dark Matters as a public reading on Montez Press Radio [New York, NY internet] (Jan 2021)

contributed thoughts on mutual histories and knowledge assemblages for's yearly publication, annual: on tending [print] (Dec 2020)

guest critic for "_____ in residence" residency program at Babycastles [New York, NY internet] (Dec 2020)

self-published The Dictionary of Dark Matters, a collaborative people's dictionary on surveillance, racial capitalism and technology [print] (Oct 2020)

self-published "revolution & us: a pocket guide to direct action" with bufu by us for us available at printed matter and wendy's subway [print] (Jun 2020)

co-organized and supported teaching for Dark Matters: On Blackness, Surveillance and the Whiteness of the Screen at the School for Poetic Computation, with American Artist [New York, NY internet] (May 2020 — July 2020)

Guest critic for MFA studio course at Parsons, The New School instructed by Fei Liu [New York, NY internet] (May 2020)

Collaborated with BUFU By Us For Us to create a platform called CLOUD9 (Collective Love on Ur Desktop) for sharing care, strategies, wisdom, sweetness, resources and love to support everyone affected by the coronavirus pandemic [internet] (March 2020 — May 2020)


situating technology within a diasporic imaginary, to explore the ways in which machines can mediate the affects of displacement, human mobility and (re)settlement Google My Memories

self-publishing an assemblage of knowledge on surveillance, racial capitalism and technology, established within mutual histories Dark Matters Dictionary

sharing care, strategies, wisdom, sweetness, resources, and love to support everyone affected by the coronavirus pandemic Cloud9

interrogating the cultural value systems that are encoded into the objects that we build Death as a Moment of Radical Continuity

supporting interdisciplinary study in art, code, hardware and critical theory School for Poetic Computation

questioning the memorabilia of capitalist labor — residue from the xerox office regime that is reminiscent of the technologies that dictate the conditions of our world Dark Matters Zine

responding urgently against ongoing state violence, in the form of a toolkit on digital self-defense, anti-surveillance and direct action care Revolution & Us

foregrounding film as a conduit for diaspora reconnection with radical potential African Film Festival

unpacking the notion of creeping normality to reflect upon perennial social and environmental degradation Erode: On Creeping Normality

critiquing the corrosive cycle of consumption and rejecting the affordances of friction-free exchange Vestige/s of Manipulation

Leveraging spatial storytelling to examine the effects of systemic loss on the identity of a community Hazelwood Memorial

analyzing notions of identity and presentation of self in physical realms and virtual contexts Dog Cat Fish