Songs of the East

One day as I was walking down the streets of my neighborhood in Lahore, camera and tripod in hand, a local elder man stopped me to ask what I was doing. I explained I was an artist, documenting the streets to later edit into a video. With great concern, he asked “Will your video be positive or negative?”

This encounter posed to me a valid as well as difficult question: do outsiders like myself accurately depict societies abroad or do we choose to perpetuate the narrative we are most accustomed to?

A city is defined by the people who live, work and breathe in it, who build and shape it. Through all the concrete and gravel, hot black tar roads, hardened steel support beams, red brick and mortar, Monstera and Eucalyptus rooted in between dusty lawns and towering walls, repeated patterns about time and place emerge. Patterns like these are the heartbeat of any city, but the stories most often told fail to acknowledge them.

This work investigates the line between fact and fiction within representation by looking at the camera as an artifice. Through collecting items of Pakistani popular culture, local newspaper clippings, Urdu novels, etc. and then photographing them in the studio, I create scenes that are reminiscent of an anthropological study. In juxtaposing these still-lifes with photographic documentations of the street, connections between the real and the constructed are challenged. Displaying the image against both natural and man-made materials melds their surfaces into one, and these new objects become a memorial to a fading past.