Zayaan works as an artist, consultant, food transformer, ceramicist, writer and researcher; consistently working from a sociopolitical platform, so as to understand truer meanings of ‘transformation’ and the expressions of ‘solutions’ inherent in the ways in which we consume – from food to medicine, art, cosmetic and household consumables.


Zayaan Khan was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1984. She attributes her work to constant fascination with the politics of ecological custodianship and food security, in order to understand the sovereignty of citizens. Through her burgeoning ideas relating to the emergence of a ‘Food Civic’, she explores, enquires and listens to her habitat – the city as strange natural system/s.

Zayaan studied a few things before settling on Landscape Design and Horticulture, concentrating her learning on green roof systems and their practicality to increase biodiversity within the cityscape. She is currently completing her Masters Degree through the Environmental Humanities South Programme at the University of Cape Town, an interdisciplinary research cluster in which to focus her research on citizens’ relationships with seed.


The local urban and ecological environments, and their interchangeable relationships intrigued Zayaan towards understanding the elements which constitute ecosystems. Through curiosity, research, experimentation and engagement, her work found a resting place in Food as a means of understanding the world, particularly land and our collective heritage. She is heavily influenced by historical tradition and the creation of future heritage, and is passionate about the reclamation of culture and reviving tradition through progressive interpretations, in order to enact a listening of the future and a steady present survivalism.

“Khan & Khan”

Zayaan Khan and Atiyyah Khan are two South African scholars and artists based in Cape Town, whose work explores various avenues of identity through music and food respectively. Their research interests gives prominence to Islamic heritage and culture. Their work is often site-specific and is approached with a DIY-ethic.


Khan & Khan are the inaugural Artists-in-Residence of the Africa Open Institute in Stellenbosch, they are inspired to occupying spaces in unusual and maverick ways. Their research will include but is not limited to, exploring ideas around Islamic roots and identity, Pan-Africanism, Arab Africa, Indigeneity, History, Memory, Mapping and the Politics of Shame. These ideas will be explored over the course of their residency, by digging into archives and researching various sources from sound studies to mapping techniques and recipes long forgotten.

Zayaan Khan was born into a Malay community in Walmer Estate, Cape Town, and Atiyyah Khan was born and raised in Actonville, the Indian township in Benoni, on the East Rand of Johannesburg. Their different cultural perspectives, religious upbringings and experiences have provided a solid foundation for their ten-year long friendship, remixing the challenges of their backgrounds with a sense of brazen humour, to articulate its uncertainties.

Zayaan works with land and food as a connector, and through storytelling, opens up ancient ways of knowing into further practicality.


Through the music collective Future Nostalgia, Atiyyah has zoned her creative focus on record-digging and collecting music from Africa, and re-shaping what we understand as ‘African Music’.

Together their interests collide in the practice of sharing ancient futures. Khan & Khan will work through mapping and sound to express the journeys of their ideas within this AOI Sonic Residency. Other themes for investigation include – land, death, roots, shame within a hyper-specific-locality. towards a repatriation of self, of land, of faith, of religion.

This Residency will culminate in an event in February 2019 where their findings will be shared in a multi-sensory experience in order to create a space of convivial sharing, listening, feeling and knowing.

The following scans of printed work and photographic slideshow accompany the mixtapes produced by Zayaan Khan and Atiyyah Khan.


Zayaan Khan

Atchar MixTapes are born of a sense of identity and wonder, a kind of excavation into collective memory within our family to uncover the favourite recipes of our ancestors, searching for a sense of this land through food, finding roots in recipes, like preserves and pickles, then fermenting them to bring them into indigeneity, finding new roots for future certainty.

Atchar MixTape // Mango was a journey into Atiyyah Khan’s vinyl collection, selecting tracks with elements of food or land in their composition, whether in the track title or album title or in an instrument used in the composition.


Atchar MixTape // Mango Tracklisting – selected from the vinyl collection of Atiyyah Khan

00:00     Shabaka and The Ancestors – “The Sea” (Wisdom of Elders)

09:43     Sinana Mbira Music – “Nhemamussa”

13:55     Nimco Jamaac – “Buuraha u dheer” (Sweet as Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa)

19:32     Duke Lumumba – “Nsu Shiw” (Lumumba)

23:58     Kalyan – “Hello Africa” (Kalyan)

30:15     Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – Yaad-e-Nabi Ka Gulshan Mehka (Best of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – Qawwal and Party Volume One)