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Themes of memory and nostalgia make themselves apparent in Asma Mundrawala's latest collection of works, titled "The Artificial Kingdom". In the pop-up works, for instance, sepia-toned cut-outs of men and women appear in poses that the artist likens to "the romanticism of studio poses in old family photographs", such as in Temporal Debris. The various buildings and monuments in these works, too, draw from ruins in and around Karachi — the city Mundrawala grew up in.
A collection of digital prints on paper, pop-up works and one audio piece, on display at Project 88 gallery in Colaba till September 22, reflect Mundrawala's relationship with her city as well as her memories of a time that has passed. Most of these were created specially for the show, but some of the pop-up books are from previous collections. One such from the collection, Manzar — perhaps the most intriguing and impressive work of the series — was made earlier this year in collaboration with another Pakistani artist, Adeela Suleman. This is Mundrawala's first solo exhibition in Mumbai.
"I speak of my relationship with my city as well as a time that has passed. I do this by living through my own memories, through photographic images from my family albums and the memories of a generation that lived through that time," she says. "To me, these represent an imagined alternative, a place that I may not have experienced but one that I imagine and reinvent through these documentations," she adds.
In many of the works on display are cut-outs and images of men and women that could well be from old family albums that the Karachi-based artist talks about. However, not all of them are. In a digital print, Just friends, the man and woman shaking hands are characters taken from an old film publicity photograph and "may be actors". The woman in another digital print, titled I'll be around, standing with her arms folded and apparently gazing at a red curtain, however, is Mundrawala's mother. A third, the man in the digital print Lawrence Gardens Rendezvous who also appears in the pop-up work Temporal Debris, is "a by-stander in an official photograph taken when my father was working for a bank", she says. "I do not pick characters for my works because of who they are, but rather for their postures and what they contribute to the narrative," explains Mundrawala, who also teaches at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Karachi.
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