Memories are fragile things. The beginning of the story reveals a room of possessions. This chair has seen a variety of uses: bums, clothes, towel racks, history. The painting is a map of remembrances. These possessions, reminders of past journeys and experiences are cheap trinkets that grow in value over time. This cushion has been on many a bed, sofa, chair, chewed on by many pets. Nostalgia makes it invaluable. What experiences are embodied by these objects? How do these spaces become home when filled with them?
My work speaks to the centrality of reminiscence and the passage of time as an accumulation of history. I chronicle journeys through time and place, paying tribute to intimate relationships that develop over the course of these passages. Thus, the concept of family transcends blood. Intimacy is expressed through character interactions in domestic settings. Born in Karachi, Pakistan to a Pakistani father and a Chilean mother, my practice and research interests are centered on the notions of home and belonging, tied to the broader theme of otherness due to my interfaith and unique mixed-race background. Moreover, I pay tribute to my Pakistani heritage by merging elements of the country’s material culture with personal imagery in my visual vocabulary. My practice comprises domestic microcosms encapsulated in handmade dioramas, painting, printmaking.
As a half-Pakistani, half-Chilean English speaker in Quebec, having a hybrid identity finds its manifestation in my work through the amalgamation of my colour palette, patterns and themes. Integral to my practice is the sumptuousness of Pakistani motifs, textiles and carpets, domestic items that have surrounded me for the entirety of my life. My nuanced relationship to this identity is nostalgic, harking back to a past I try to hold onto as the memories of it recede. These remembrances are expressed in reconstructed repetitive elements, currently the same domestic interiors and objects painted in different lights on different days. These works, very much about confinement during the pandemic, are also about reaching out to touch a past which can never exist again. There is not so much an absence as a yearning.
This diorama work, titled Transitions: Unmuted, was created specifically for the Unmute Virtual Artist Residency as part of artsUNITE’s national launch. My intention with this work is to promote belonging within domestic settings, especially since the pandemic has forced people to be inside more. Our current reality has led us to adapt in novel ways, with social interactions moving online, and the work reflects this reality. At the same time, these experiences of confinement have been universal since the start of the pandemic for those of us fortunate to be able to stay home.