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Exploring a girl’s narrative within constraints of strict patriarchy

Exploring a girl’s narrative within constraints of strict patriarchy

The Sanat Initiative is hosting an art exhibition featuring works by Haya Zaidi. Titled ‘Angst: Portrait of an Afterthought’, the show will run at the gallery until October 26.

The catalogue released by the Sanat Initiative for the exhibition quotes Haya as saying that her practice explores themes of quotidian life through a feminist lens and centres around the brown female body.

The artist points out that preceding the 20th century, female representation was often romanticised, reducing women to objects of beauty. She says she revisits historical iconographic elements from Indo-Persian miniature paintings, initially crafted for the male gaze, to investigate their relevance in today’s cultural context.

In doing so, she adds, she strives to reclaim and redefine South Asian feminine representation, addressing the critical themes of race, gender, identity and sexuality.

Haya says that her current collection being displayed at the gallery draws inspiration from Ismat Chughtai, the remarkable feminist writer and film-maker of the 20th century. The artist points out that throughout her literary career, Ismat fearlessly explored themes such as female sexuality, femininity, social norms and the constraints of middle-class gentility, all expressed with an undaunted voice.

She says the works on display are particularly shaped by ‘Lihaaf’, one of Ismat’s most notorious short stories. “They explore the narrative of a young girl navigating a world with limited agency within the constraints of strict patriarchy.”

As a punitive measure, she adds, the girl is sent to her aunt’s home, a woman ensnared in an unhappy marriage, leading a reclusive life marked by ill-fated loneliness in domesticity.

Born in 1993, Haya is a multi-disciplinary visual artist based in Karachi. She graduated from the National College of Arts in Lahore in 2017, securing a distinction in miniature painting.

Her work is an amalgamation of mixed media, collage, miniature painting and digital art. Her work centres around personal experiences while navigating the world through the vessel of the brown female body and explores subjects around race, gender, identity and sexuality within the context of the subcontinental cultural climate.

Since 2017 she has exhibited nationally and internationally, and has earned critical acclaim for her unique visual language, acquiring a distinct position on the basis of her originality, experiments and ideas.

Source: The News

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