The Khan’s hotel rooms at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Galerie Ravenstein are rooms from The Perfumed Garden’s fiction that are temporarily grafted in other fictions. In these rooms—hotel rooms based on spaces and events in the novel—Hekmat functions as a concierge. He welcomes guests and weaves his fiction into their worlds. In these rooms, The Perfumed Garden becomes a landscape, like the framed landscapes of the homeland in houses of diaspora. The difference is that the The Perfumed Garden is a wallpaper made of text, and its homeland is one that is being built, not one that has been migrated from.

The wallpaper element is shared in both The Khan Boston and The Khan Brussels. With each iteration, it was a different experiment in engaging with the novel as an editable visual. From a distance, each wallpaper depicts a different floral pattern, but as you get closer, you find a legible text from The Perfumed Garden. In both cases, the wallpapers are proposed as canvases rather than untouchable pieces of art. Scribbles by the performed Hekmat, visitors, and guests edit the landscape, treating it as a draft, a prototype.

These spaces are created as intruders and hosts, generators and documentaries — incubators of Active Fiction. They are rooms which cannot be read outside the systemic borders of the world, be they social, economic, or juridical and consequently geopolitical. Through breaching existing orders, they uncover borders and loopholes in an otherwise opaque system.

In the case of The Khan Boston which was the first version of these rooms, I transformed my studio at MIT into a space that could be rented through Airbnb . The space was furnished with found and designed objects that manifest The Perfumed Garden’s territory at MIT. The bed, for example, depicts the topography of the Mediterranean seabed in the area of the Leviathan basin where there is an ongoing dispute between Lebanon and Israel over natural gas. It is an invitation to access an inaccessible border through the act of sleep, the collision point for two geopolitical fictions.

Sleep is prohibited on campus at MIT, presumably for safety reasons. So is the access of non-affiliated individuals, making The Khan Boston tricky to manage within a bureaucratic system that governs through fear, friction and wasting resources. The room promised, through Hekmat as concierge and chaperone, a penetrative capsule through which conversations about space and fiction could emerge.

 
 
 

Title ········· The Khan of Boston

Medium ········· Pavillion, Performance

Context ······ MIT

Year ······· 2017