Home and away

The Express Tribune’s T Magazine: November 24-30, 2013

“This is the first time that I’ve had to talk to CNN about one of our exhibits,” quips Sarah Bevan, curator of the Imperial War Museum’s (London) IWM Contemporary programme, which features 5,000 Feet Is The Best, a short film by artist Omer Fast exploring the subject of drone warfare.

“At 5,000 feet,” explains a drone operator interviewed by Fast in the film, “I can tell what type of shoes you’re wearing from a mile away.” The film is structured around segments of interviews with this former drone operator (now employed as a security guard) who claims to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a consequence of the missions he has been a part of in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The film, played on a loop, has no discernable opening or ending, and viewers are free to watch the narrative, comprised of a series of vignettes, unfold at any point.

Link to full article in T Magazine

Link to excerpt from Fast’s short film

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Jinnah’s abode: No. 35, Russell Road

The Express Tribune’s T Magazine: July 21, 2013

The Indians get India House. And a serene cross-legged Gandhi in Tavistock Square. And Chicken Tikka Masala, now one of Britain’s favourite national meals. And Bollywood premieres in Leicester Square. When I asked some friends living in London what comes to mind when I said ‘Pakistan’, I got ‘Im-run Kahn’ (New Zealand), ‘houses in the middle of the desert and sand everywhere’ (Brazil), ‘your terrorists’ (Belgium) and ‘no clue’ (Ireland).

So when, during the course of research for my MA dissertation, I read the following sentence in Stanley Wolpert’s biography of Quaid-e-Azam, I thought it might help me feel a little more rooted in London, to allow me to feel as if I could have a foot in both my Pakistani and British worlds: “His father deposited money enough to his account in a British bank to allow Jinnah to live in London for three years. There is no record of precisely how many hotel rooms or ‘bed and breakfast’ stops he rented before moving into the modest three-story house at 35 Russell Road in Kensington…”

Link to full article in T Magazine

Reel World

The Herald: November 2012

Reel World: Storytelling at the 56th London Film Festival

“There is no dialogue between these two worlds,” said Mira Nair at the premiere of The Reluctant Fundamentalist during the British Film Institute’s (BFI) London Film Festival (LFF), referring to the relationship between the western world and developing countries. “If we don’t tell our own stories,” she continued, “no one else will tell them for us.” It is this endeavour that characterised much of the content at the festival — during 12 days, 227 feature films and documentaries and 111 short films from 68 countries attempted to bring the world to London’s audience.

Link to PDF of full article

Link to full article on Herald site

“We are examining the relationship between faith and society”

The Herald: September 2011

“We are examining the relationship between faith and society”: Venetia Porter, curator of the British Museum’s Hajj exhibit

London’s British Museum announced this August that a new exhibition entitled Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam will open at the museum in January 2012, bringing together historic and contemporary objects – including contemporary art, video, pilgrims’ testimonies, manuscripts, textiles, archaeological items and photography – to explore the experience and importance of the annual pilgrimage. Visitors to the exhibition can also expect sound-cones emitting the labbaik prayer, extracts from The Autobiography of Malcolm X (he went on Hajj in 1964), the Kiswah (the cloth covering the Kaaba) and the bottle that explorer Richard Burton filled with water from the Zamzam well in 1853. The show is scheduled to run from January 26 – April 15, 2012.

Venetia Porter, responsible for the British Museum’s collection of Islamic and modern Middle Eastern art and also chief curator for the exhibition, spoke to the Herald on how this exhibition will focus on the history of Islam and the region, while looking at the material culture surrounding the religion.

Link to PDF of full article