The Tetley, Leeds, Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Madiha Ajaz’s first solo show in the UK centres around the Pakistan-based artist’s most recent work exploring the public libraries of Karachi. From an historic Theosophical library to venues that house a community hall and library, Aijaz sees these spaces as a lens to view the changing landscape of Karachi. Pakistan’s most populous city, Karachi is also the country’s most linguistically, ethnically and religiously diverse.
The central film work, titled These Silences Are All the Words, 2017, focuses on the Bedil Library – named after the famed poet from the state of Bihar in undivided India. The librarians and the library’s users reflect on the city outside the library’s walls and the shift of language from Urdu and its poetic and literary history, to the current prevalence of English in the postcolonial environment.
Aijaz works with photography, film and fiction, exploring how pleasure and entertainment are experienced in public spaces. Ajaz has photographed and filmed travelling melas, devotional towns, public libraries and railways, capturing spaces and communities that have become peripheral to civic life, but which by tenacity and chance continue to survive.
Aijaz’s film These Silences Are All the Words, 2017, and accompanying photographs have been co-commissioned with Liverpool Biennial, and Karachi Biennale, Pakistan’s first biennial of contemporary art, and is a part of the New North and South; a three-year programme of activity across eleven organisations from the North of England and South Asia. This work for the exhibition was developed during Aijaz’s ROSL Arts residency at Hospitalfield in Arbroath.