Through the gaze of others – Zinnia Naqvi
November 12 to 29th, 2020
Dear Nani – Artist Statement
Dear Nani (2017 – ongoing) is a project that addresses issues of gender performance and colonial mimicry through the family archive. The photographs included in this project are of the artist’s maternal grandmother, Rhubab Tapal. Nani is performing the act of cross-dressing by wearing several different outfits that belong to her husband. The photographs were taken on her honeymoon after the couple was newly married in Quetta and Karachi Pakistan, in 1948. The artist’s grandfather or Nana, Gulam Abbas Tapal, is the photographer and presumed director of the photo session.
As Nani holds a Children’s Encyclopaedia produced for subjects of the British colonies, she is performing not only the role of man, but also, an Indian man performing the role of a British man. As Naqvi tries to understand these images she puts herself into the unanswered questions. She tries on the role of Nani as well as some of the other contributors to the images, such as the unknown children in the background. The fictional dialogue between Nani and her grand-daughter attempts to unpack some of the questions surrounding these images, while also asking the viewer to revisit their own reading.
Nani in Garden, 1948.(Reproduction 2017)
Nani with Moustache, 1948.(Reproduction 2017)
Nani in Safari Hat, 1948.(Reproduction 2017)
Self-portrait as Nani, 2017
Definition of “Occident” from “The Children’s Dictionary” edited by Harold Wheeler, date unknown.
“Gifts of Other Lands to the English Language”, illustration and legend from “The Children’s Dictionary” edited by Harold Wheeler, date unknown.
Nani with Child in the Background, 2017
Karachi, Pakistan and Montreal, Canada
Nani with Jinnah Cap, 1948
Self-portrait with Nani in the Garden, 2017
Quetta, Pakistan and Pickering, Canada
Nani and Nana Portrait, 1952