Zain Alam at Silo City: I am sounding a sacred space – Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center

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Zain Alam at Silo City: I am sounding a sacred space

September 1, 2023 @ 7:00 pm9:30 pm EDT

Free – $7.00
Zain Alam walking with his back to the camera in a partially enclosed area. He is dressed entirely in white.

Friday, September 1, 2023

7–8 pm: Performance at Silo City, Marine A with Zain Alam, Dayatra Amber, and Zaimah Habeeb (aka Zaimah Beloved)

8:30 pm: Refreshments and conversation with Zain Alam and S Shiraz Ali at Duende

Free or suggested donation

Squeaky Wheel is excited to welcome back Zain Alam for a special performance of his work, I am sounding a sacred space. Utilizing Silo City’s immense resonance, Alam and Buffalo’s own Dayatra Amber and Zaimah Habeeb (aka Zaimah Beloved) will each recite the azaan (the Islamic call to prayer), which Alam will distill over its duration into tonal content alone. The performance will be followed by a conversation between Alam and scholar S. Shiraz Ali on the 2nd floor of Duende.

I hope to bring a lived sense of sound in the Islamic tradition essential for the project’s aesthetic vision: drawing attention away from the meaning of the Arabic words alone and to the rich, diverse traditions of recitation, heard as music in and of themselves. How can sound create sacred space, rather than vice-versa? In the long reverb and comforting resonances of Silo City, the workshop performance revealed to me the healing properties of sound—particularly sound carried forward by natural echoes and amplified by nothing more than the resonant qualities of the space. I’m looking forward to incorporating this knowledge into a finalized performance, thinking deeply about how vocal practices in religious tradition can be taken outside of their usual institutional context and used in pursuit of creating sacred, healing spaces of our own. – Zain Alam

The performance will begin at 7 pm at Marina A in Silo City. Enter Marina A through the back door in the garden of Duende. After a brief break, we invite you to the 2nd floor of Duende for a conversation between Alam and S. Shiraz Ali.


The following video showcases excerpts from the live performance that took place on September 1, 2023.

About the artist, featured performers, and speakers

Zain Alam is an artist and musician of Indian-Pakistani origin based in Brooklyn, NY. Described as “a unique intersection, merging the cinematic formality of Bollywood and geometric repetition of Islamic art,” his recording project Humeysha began during his year working as an oral historian for the 1947 Partition Archive. His work is a project of translation using contemporary pop forms, found sound, and oral history as means of investigating one’s position in an outside tradition or community. Alam’s practice extends his sonic vision into video, performance, and writing. His works are braided together by a passion for the borrowed voice, re/de-contextualization, and bricolage — for how a personal mosaic of sound can empower minority and marginalized to engage in self-creation on their own terms. His essays have been published in Miami RailBuzzfeed, and The New Yorker, and Humeysha has been covered by the New York TimesVice, and Village Voice. His performances have been staged at venues including Public Arts, Webster Hall, and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Alam has most recently completed fellowships with Bruce High Quality Foundation, Marble House, and South Asian American Digital Archive.

Alam was a Workspace Resident in Spring 2022, where he first worked on the project at Silo City. See a brief video of him talking about the project here:

Dayatra Amber is an Artist, Educator, Word Holistic Practitioner and mother of three, who resides in Buffalo, NY. A delicate blend of Clinical Mental Health Counseling, the Arts, Astrology, Metaphysics, Restorative Trauma Informed practice, self-reflection, LOVE & Holistic Healing, DayatraAmber is a whole vibe. As a military veteran, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at SUNY Buffalo, and Masters serves as a communitu in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Canisius. Dayatra Amber is a lifelong Performance Artist. She debuted as an actress at Ujima Theatre Company in 2009 and began teaching theatre in 2014. DayatraAmber has performed as a Spoken Word Artist since 1998. She published her first book of Spoken Word Art in 2016 entitled Liberta. Her passion for community has lead her to a movement & radio program called Project Access to AFreeKa, where she serves as a community organizer and personality affectionately known as DJ Bullet.

Zaimah Habeeb, aka Zaimah Beloved is a professional singer and songwriter. She has previously released 4 studio albums that utilize catchy and beautiful melodies conjoined with clever lyrics, to tackle challenging subjects, such as social justice issues and God consciousness. She is presently in the studio to complete her 5th studio album, which she calls “an album of a lifetime”. Zaimah also works as an online elementary Arabic teacher with the Islamic Learning Institute, as well as being in her first year as a Qur’an student pursuing her Ijaazah in Hafs. Zaimah has stated she is most proud of her work as creator of “Tajweed from the Cradle to the Grave”, which is a tajweed and fluency tutoring service, provided free of charge to children and elderly students who are currently at the beginning and intermediate levels of Arabic fluency and Tajweed.

S. Shiraz Ali is a scholar of Islamic intellectual and cultural history. He is currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures at University of California, Berkeley, where he researches the development of philosophy and rhetoric in Muslim South Asia. Ali has contributed to initiatives like PeaceNiche/The Second Floor, Matnsaz, Zer Zabar Paesh, and the 2018 documentary Salam: The First ****** Noble Laureate. He holds a master’s in the study of religion from Harvard University. He was born and raised in Karachi.

The logo of Lyceum at Silo CityThis event is presented with Lyceum at Silo City. The Lyceum at Silo City is an urban land management nonprofit based at Silo City in Buffalo, NY. Our modern-day lyceum captures Aristotle’s ‘walking and teaching’ and participatory method with our boots in the soil immersive approach to ecological training and experiential arts and cultural programming. Our work includes regional restoration ecology, integrated site-responsive arts, and intentional community-building that connects the public with Silo City’s unique urban landscape, situated amongst the city’s largest collection of historical grain elevators. We create exceptional experiences for those who love learning, collaborating, and discovering.

Banner image: Zain Alam walking with his back to the camera in a partially enclosed area on a sunny day. He is dressed in white.


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September 1, 2023
7:00 pm– 9:30 pm EDT
Free – $7.00
Event Category:


Squeaky Wheel
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Silo City
85 Silo City Row
Buffalo, NY 14203 United States
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