Manora Field Notes: Naiza Khan
Pavilion of Pakistan, curated by Zahra Khan
Published by Mousse Publishing and Foundation Art Divvy
First edition: 2019
21 x 27 cm
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Presented by the Pakistan National Council of the Arts and Foundation Art Divvy
Iftikhar Dadi | Naiza Khan | Zahra Khan | Aamir R. Mufti | Emilia Terracciano
Artist: Naiza Khan | Curator: Zahra Khan | Commissioner: Jamal Shah | Editor: Zahra Khan | Copy Editor: Eti Bonn-Muller
Back Cover Text:
This book is a testimonial to two intertwining creative processes. The first involves a highly complex multimedia installation by leading contemporary artist Naiza Khan. The second encompasses a sophisticated curatorial intervention by curator Zahra Khan that shaped the first Pavilion of Pakistan at the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Manora Field Notes, the eponymous exhibition and work, evidences the artist’s well-established experimentation with conceptualism, which is infused with a deep sense of materiality and her reworking of traditional craftsmanship within a contemporary vision. It also highlights her practice as a process of critical research, documentation and mapping-based exploration, with special focus on urban public spaces and their entanglement with history.
Khan’s three-part project is an iteration of her long-standing engagement with Manora Island, a peninsula located off the harbour of Karachi, Pakistan’s most populous city. The work poetically documents the slow erasure of the island’s architectural landscape. It also charts the demise of the area’s ecology in relation to climate and environmental changes as well as issues of social and economic justice, and mass displacement. Most exceptionally, Manora Field Notes bears witness to similar transformations in major cities across the Global South. It also creates uncanny links between Karachi and Venice as both port cities are situated on historical, transnational trade routes that, at different points in time, have been at the crossroads of immense geopolitical change.
This is a must-read book, not only as a companion to the Venice installation, but also as a repository of succinct interventions by major scholars and critics of South Asian cultural and art historical studies. In addition to a statement by the curator, the catalogue includes reflections by leading scholars Iftikhar Dadi, Aamir R. Mufti and Emilia Terracciano, along with an insightful text by Naiza Khan on her creative process. The artist’s text, in particular, offers depth to our understanding of this complex installation, which was certainly amongst the most interesting at the Venice Biennale of 2019.
—Salah M. Hassan, Goldwin Smith Professor, Art History and Africana Studies, Cornell University