A gasp of air: posthuman intimacies in Tejal Shah’s Between the Waves

Lakshmi Padmanabhan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What does it mean to make love to trash? Experimental video artist Tejal Shah’s work has consistently thought through the limits and capacities of the image to address queer sexuality. In their most recent work, Between the Waves, the artist visualizes a lush feminist dystopia at the end of the world as we know it. Images of bodies–human, plant, and other life–are brought together in shifting relations of intimacy amidst landfill waste, forest swamps, and deserted beaches. This paper develops a temporal critique of Shah’s installation, focusing on waiting as a queer dystopian form of cohabitation. While postcolonialism’s temporality has focused on the hauntings of the past in the present, in this article I take postcolonial interventions into linear temporality as informative for imagining queer postcolonial futures. Through the paper, I pay close attention to the acousmatic sounds of aspiration and nondiegetic breath, contending that such encounters render a postcolonial and posthuman ethics of queer care for selves and others in the midst of environmental ruin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-161
Number of pages18
JournalNew Review of Film and Television Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Acousmatic sound
  • Frantz Fanon
  • Gilles Deleuze
  • Tejal Shah
  • digital media
  • environmentalism
  • experimental film
  • feminism
  • postcolonialism
  • queerness
  • race
  • temporality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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