The Border Effect — Works of art by Saba Qizilbash

The solo exhibition of her latest drawings at Koel Gallery is to continue till April 21st

Nadia Faisal

KARACHI: Drawn as mere dots, dashes or lines on maps to partition one space from another, border specifically the artificial man-made kind is chosen as a subject of analysis by artist Saba Qizilbash in her latest works.

Collectively entitled ‘by land’ the series explores the notion and nature of this dividing line that is effectively invisible and intangible with no physical existence yet its impact on the human life around it is of great significance.

A Pakistani married into an Indian Kashmiri family who is frequently crossing borders to visit both her place of birth and Kashmir from her residence in Dubai, the inspiration for her current body of work is somewhat personal in nature.

Trained at the National college of Arts in Lahore and the Rhode Island School of Design, Qizalbash investigates the concept in its dual function of exclusion and inclusion through the symbolic use of wooden barriers, watchtowers, lighthouses, barbed wires, fences, checkpoints and so forth.

 Friendly or disputed, it’s complicated and things are always a bit tense when it comes to these unnatural peripheries designed to separate and disrupt human interaction, explains the artist who has experienced the humanitarian consequence of these border lines at a very personal level.  

Even in the wake of globalisation marked by the free movement of people, goods and ideas, these borders are no less significant, according to the artist whose primary tool for visual expression of the subject becomes pencil instead of paint.

Much of her works being in response to her personal experiences, her current body of work also reflects the often unequal and discriminatory levels of scrutiny, surveillance and screening that a traveler of colour is subjected to, adds Qizilbash who evocatively attempts to address some of the profound implications and challenges of these socially, culturally, and politically demarcated boundaries.

Currently teaching at the American University in Dubai, the solo exhibition of her latest drawings at Koel Gallery is to continue till April 21st.