Art History, Theory, and Criticism: Archive
MacLean Center, 112 S. Michigan Ave., room 1307
Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 4:15 p.m.
My interest in interventions into public and urban space in Pakistan has led me to a long-term investigation of Manora Island. Manora was historically a defense fort facing the Arabian Sea and forms part of a small archipelago just off the natural harbor of Karachi. The presence of different religious buildings points to a multi-religious social fabric that perhaps once existed on this island.
Over the years, I have witnessed a particular kind of development, in which the natural ecology of the island and its history has been slowly erased. The geography and administrative segmentation of Manora evokes the metaphor of a body that has been gutted and cast away.
Unlike the grand scale of power struggles that are difficult to articulate in the city, the island is marked by built structures, where it is possible to visualize the sense of urban decay and transformation. My presence as an artist on the island has acted as a catalyst for possible outcomes. Like the island which stands as a sentry-post; this research has become an observation point that informs my broader project examining the port city of Karachi, its urban sprawl, its history and the decaying machinery of colonialism.
The assault on urban and architectural materiality has become a symbol of geopolitical strife. The contested sovereignties over land have produced multiple mappings and conflicts: how the land has been used and by whom, has also produced competing imaginations of space.