In the third part of a novel series of exhibitions and quarterlies — titled PIX, started by Max Mueller Bhavan, to build an archive of contemporary photographic practices in the South Asian region, 14 visual artists are presenting their perceptions of Pakistan. Each issue aims to collate the photographic trends existing within a specific country, and the current series is no different. It took almost a year to put together the variety of work.
Marylise Vigneau; From the series Peaceful Days in Lahore, Walled City Lahore, May 2011; digital
The process began with a reconnaissance trip to Pakistan by some of the team members to familiarise themselves with the visual practices of the country. “The recce was done in cities like Karachi and Lahore in May last year. We formed an advisory team in Pakistan that helped us fight the stereotypical tropes that we might fall into, as outsiders, and also contextualise the works. We launched the third edition with a show in Karachi in January 2015. It also travelled to New Delhi in March,” says Rahaab Allana, a member of the team that went for the recce.
From L: Arif Mahmood, Unconventional Portrait; Karachi, 2014, 35mm black-and-white film; Malcolm Hutcheson; Ganda Nala by Ruh Khitch Camera; Saptarshi Sanyal; Brick Bonds Sarai Amanat Khan, Punjab, 2007-2014; digital
While most of the works have been shot in Pakistan, Indian photographer Saptarshi Sanyal has captured the road leading to Lahore from Amritsar in an area called Sarai Amanat Khan in Punjab. The show, however, does not restrict the genres by confining them to landscapes or portraits. The narrative of a story within a photographer’s body of work is essential. Broadly, most of them are documentary in nature. Photographer Asef Ali’s work looks at the plight of the country’s Hazara community. Edwin Koo’s portrait of Swat Valley paints the picture of it as a paradise that existed. Photographer Marylise Vigneau presents glimpses of street life in Pakistan.
Aun Raza; Lahore Mental Asylum; Lahore, 2012-2014; digital
Lensman Hutcheson’s works are shot using a Ruh Khitch camera, a dated apparatus that requires the subject to stay still for close to 15 seconds. “Some artists have also used digital manipulations and collages to narrate their ideas. For instance, Amber Hammad’s work, Glocal, reinterprets famous western paintings in the Pakistani context. On the other hand, Sana Khan, a Pakistani artist based in London, creates fantasy landscapes through digital manipulations of images she has shot,” says Tanvi Mishra, a team member.
Sample some more photos from Pakistan…