Birthright – The Inheritance of a Legacy

Birthright – Inheritance of a Legacy weaves personal family history with a broader social commentary on twenty-first century young Pakistanis who have made a difference or have given their lives trying to. Invoking the idea of home, combined with objects of material culture, the work speaks to origins and the inheritance of history, be it personal or national. As I was born to a Pakistani father and Chilean mother, and I grew up in Pakistan, I have followed the news from a distance in recent years. Of particular importance to me in the last decade is how people trying to stimulate discussion, or live life on their own terms, have become newsmakers in Pakistan. Controversy has dogged them on issues we take for granted in the developed world, namely the ability of girls to go to school (Malala Yousufzai); the use of social media as a platform for self-promotion yet highlighting social hypocrisy simultaneously (Qandeel Baloch); and advocacy for an open and honest discussion on religion (Mashal Khan) and government policies (Sabeen Mahmud). Murder or attempted murder have done nothing to quell the debates around these figures and in some cases, justice eludes them. Creating an intimate space and combining personal archival black-and-white/sepia photos with the photos of these activists moves them beyond the realm of personality into personhood. As such, they are members of my extended Pakistani family.

This project is dedicated to Malala Yousufzai and the memories of Qandeel Baloch, Sabeen Mahmud, and Mashal Khan. Moreover, the project honours all victims of gender-based, political, and sectarian violence, and all the activists working tirelessly on their behalf.

Photo credit: Vitamine Scout

Birthright – Inheritance of a Legacy

Installation, screen print and inkjet on paper, 90 in. x 110 in.

Published by Shazia Ahmad

Part-time artist, full-time dreamer. Montreal/Toronto

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