This, That and the Other: Perceptions set in stone told through mediums of art
KARACHI: “My work is based on the perception of my home country, Pakistan and the Muslim world at large in the eyes of the West,” said artist Sausan Saulat at the opening of her solo exhibition, ‘This, That and the Other’.
The East is too often seen through the narrow lens of terrorism and oppression and as a humourless, dangerous entitiy, said Saulat. “Metaphors for tradition, gender, politics and religion all form my visual and theoretical oeuvre.”
The exhibition, which opened on Monday at the Koel Gallery, will run till September 25 from 5pm to 8pm. Saulat’s latest work speaks of how the West views the East and how women of the East have to hide their true identity because of certain cultural traits.
Talking to The Express Tribune, she explained her work is a response to the perception of her professors and peers in the United States. “My work is not suppressive, it is progressive.”
Saulat explains the way women in the East have to merge themselves with their culture in a portrait of herself against the backdrop of a traditional pattern, titled Self Po(o)rtrait. Her portrait merges with the pattern and fades away in a sequence of different portraits with only the background and her silhouette visible in the last one.
In another piece, Dirty Laundry, she uses video projection on an iron stand which appears to have a face of a woman wearing a ‘burqa’. “People used to be shocked when I’d be wearing jeans and ask me questions like how come I was studying abroad alone being a Pakistani woman,” said the artist, who also tried to used humour to tackle western perception.
Saulat also expressed the levels of anxiety and stress people go through when flying abroad through a mixed media, It’s not me it’s you: Fear of f(lying). The installation used pictures of her friends next to the window of a plane surrounded by medicines of anxiety and stress. “Even though I had all my documents and permanent residence in the US, every time I flew [to the US] I had to take medicines for anxiety on the plane.”
Showcasing the rich culture of Pakistani jewellery, Saulat turned bangles into handcuffs and replaced the stones on rings with medicines.
In the title of her exhibition, This, That and the Other, Saulat refers to the East as ‘the other’. Paintings at the exhibition range from Rs10,000 to Rs70,000.
Born in Karachi, the artist completed her Bachelors in Fine Art from The Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in 2006. She has since exhibited extensively in Pakistan and the US.