Egghead Neologies and Pathetic Monsters
My work began as an exploration of the randomness of nature; at times, rendering our bodies dysfunctional and therefore vulnerable – and yet paradoxically evoking the brute strength of our essentially animalistic, almost obsessive need for survival. I had hoped that it would then perhaps be possible to demystify love, desire and other such abstractions as functional necessities.
At the same time, it reflected an attempt to understand issues of identity and feminity in this environment. I had hoped to discover some element of truth from experiences and from nature itself. However, with time, it focused more on the raw and sometimes humorous nature of emotions and narratives representing my experiences. The process is ongoing, and from needing to understand the nature of things, I have started looking for narratives and have encountered a need to look beyond pretensions, creating characters, self-portraits and stories that best represent situations.
My visual inspiration has come from comic books and graphic novels as well as paintings and films. I am also fascinated by the body and the way it is structured. This tends to sway from purely clinical and anatomical, to something that is more emotional and perhaps spiritual. I believe that I can draw parallels between these two extremes by using one to identify the other.
2006 - 2009
These works have been completed during the last 3 years. Some of it was done in the United States while I was a student and the rest in Islamabad. Some of these works were displayed in April 2009 at the Rohtas Gallery, Islamabad in my solo exhibition titled The Invention of Hysteria.
Hysteria, from the Greek medical term hysterikos, a medical condition thought to be common to women was supposedly caused by disturbances of the uterus (from the Greek hystera). Suffocation and madness arose in women whose uteri had become too light and dry and, as a result, wandered upward, compressing the heart, lungs, and diaphragm. Mad woman. Mad uterus.
No longer considered a medical fact, it remains within the undertones of gender politics. In a social construct where awareness of sexuality or sexual dissatisfaction is forbidden – where even awareness of the body itself is forbidden, I make a spectacle of the body as a machine and the body as an animal – containing everything: poses, fluid, flesh, bones and ecstasy. The pelvis becomes totemic, a representation of the core of the woman. The flesh becomes a display of the delirium of being within a body that oozes and bleeds and sweats. I investigate the context of the body, within the luxurious pain in the throes of its symptoms, taking a (culturally) masochistic pleasure in the confused states of mind that result from it.
This is not a spectacle of pain but a spectacle of the experience of hysteria, being within a body in its surrounding space defined by judgment and traditions of veiled masochism. Hysteria becomes a pain that is compelled to be invented. Imagined to the point of creation; finding or falling right on the shock of it and perhaps unveiling it, I am trying to find atonement for the discomfort inspired by the space around me for my body and its desires.