Splash

“Take my hand, don’t worry,” she said. “I’ll be right here.” I shook my head. She sat on the tiled edge, her legs dangling. I hesitated a moment, contemplating how to get in without feeling cold or scared. Then she pushed me and all I heard as I hit the water was laughter. When I resurfaced, I glared at her yet she was still laughing, holding on to the railing with one hand while she held on to her stomach with the other. At least I was no longer scared. I was in.

Splash, 2018, flag book with double-sided inkjet print on BFK Rives, Arches, and Fabriano  Academia paper, plywood covers, hot-foil stamped title, 7 x 27 x 1.5 inches (closed), 30 x 27 x 3.5 inches (open)

Archive – The Life After

This time last year, this time last year, it repeated like a mantra. This time last year, he was still here. This song was popular. He will never hear it again. This song became popular afterwards. He never even got to hear it. What else has he missed since then? Milestones, too many to count.

3 a.m. Every morning. That was the time that enormous pit in my stomach opened up. The dread weighed on me from that moment until my eyes closed, only to restart when I woke up abruptly.

3 months. That was all it took. I wanted to crawl into my bed and never leave.

3 years, which suddenly flew by without notice. New chapters and beginnings, yet they are without him.

Homebody, be a homebody. “It is what you take with you, no matter where you go. It is inside you. Never forget that.” With that, she walked away. I was reassured.

Birthday no. 6 has come and gone. One day, we will wake up and it will have been a decade. Sometimes I ask, what were we thinking?

Archive – The Life After, 2018, monotype, oil-based and water-based etching inks on canvas and mercerised cotton, digital print on canvas, 60 x 72 x 2″

Togetherness Continued

It is a new semester and new projects are underway. I am still making maquettes with the intention of bringing them into my current projects in some form. I have also shown I Give You Togetherness  at the VAV Gallery and Arprim in the last five months. Here are the two most current dioramas, with others in production at the moment.

I Give You Togetherness

The semester is almost over but I had my final critique last Friday for my collage class and presented I Give You Togetherness, a project consisting of maquettes and digital prints of scenarios staged in those miniature spaces, culminating in a small photo book. Using the notions of family and home as starting points, I Give You Togetherness was originally conceived as subject matter for paintings but the construction process was so much fun that I felt something might be lost if I pursued that avenue. Instead, the maquettes became sets for me to stage interactions in, and I created characters using my family, my close friends from collage, and myself. The end result combines large digital prints, smaller photographs, and the original maquettes themselves, which I wanted to show as part of my process.

I Give You Togetherness, 2018, inkjet print on archival paper, digital print on paper, acrylic, flashe and colouring pencil on cardboard and foam core

 

 

Breaking with Tradition – My Response to Jacques Fournier

The video for my artist book, Breaking with Tradition – The Life and Death of Qandeel Baloch, is now online. This book is part of the Boundless Dialogues artist book project, which I was involved in from October 2017 until April 2018. The project is a collaboration between Concordia Print Media part-time faculty members Bonnie Baxter, Jenny Lin, Stephanie Russ and Patrick Visentin, master bookbinder Jacques Fournier, and nine Concordia undergraduate students. The culmination of the project is in an exhibition curated by Melinda Reinhart, which is currently on at the Webster Library on the 2nd floor. Our finissage is on April 26th, between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. so I hope you can make it.

To learn more about Boundless Dialogues, here is a link to the project blog:

Boundless Dialogues

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Shazia Ahmad’s Art Book

Manifest

Manifest, 2018, screen print on newsprint, cardboard, foam core, found objects.  Memories are fragile things. The beginning of the story reveals a room of possessions. This chair was bought in Karachi and has seen a variety of uses: bums, clothes, towel racks, history. The painting is really a drawing, a map of remembrances and a diagram of journeys past and present. Proximity between memory and place is small, though it is growing ever wider with time. These plates and glassware, precious heirlooms now but cheap purchases when they were originally made, contain the usual trappings of memory. These possessions, such reminders of past journeys and experiences are cheap trinkets that grow in value over time. This cushion was hand-made with leftover bits of fabric and has been on many a bed, sofas, chairs, and the like, chewed on by many pets. Imbued with nostalgia, it is now invaluable. This rug, fraying and full of holes, was a copy of a more expensive carpet but in the absence of its original, it is too precious to be thrown out. What are these experiences, abstract now in the present but contained in these objects?

Record

Record, 2018 – A project containing two handwritten accordion books, The Lesson and Historiography, following my maternal grandmother‘s cursive script, as well as letters and photographs, pertaining to the themes of family (and by extension recipes), memory, and personal archives. The photos don’t really capture the scale of these books but my aim was to add so many pages that the idea of trying to hold on to a memory becomes impossible over time. The Lesson contains both the transcription of my maternal grandmother’s Spanish recipes, my English translation of them (using Google Translate), and my attempts to write like her. Historiography contains a collaged text combining some of the terminology from my grandmother’s cookbook and parts of a letter I was writing to my late paternal grandmother after reading about her in someone’s autobiography unexpectedly.

The Matriarchs

It has been a while since I last posted, though life certainly has been busy. With crunch time almost upon us, it may be a while before I post again. I wanted to share this work I presented in January for my collage class, titled The Matriarchs. Combining collage on paper to create a family portrait, as well as screen-printed wallpaper to create a space filled with a variety of handmade and found objects, the work speaks to the social and political dimensions of memory.

The Matriarchs (2018), close-up view

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

As 2017 winds down, let’s take some time to reflect on the year we have all had. Politically it’s been exhausting, but there have been triumphs amongst the bad things. In my case, it was going to Concordia, rediscovering the joys of making art, and learning new skills. I hope 2018 brings more of the same, and I leave you with my final piece of art for the year, namely a painting about family that is highly personal to me. Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2018!

The Cube, 2017, oil, flashe and collage on canvas, 36x48”
The Cube, 2017, oil, flashe and collage on canvas, 36×48”

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.