Narratives of Scale: Desire and Memory in Karachi’s Urban Space by Ms Naiza Khan on May 9

On Thursday, May 9, 2013 Ms Naiza H. Khan will give a presentation entitled Narratives of Scale: Desire and Memory in Karachi’s Urban Space.

Poster here.


Living in Karachi for over twenty years, my work has absorbed and been impacted by the shifting social dynamics and the struggle and protest that I witness in this process of change. Traditional heritage and value systems are transformed and previous structures have been challenged by a collusion of politics, economics and belief. This shift critically informs my work both conceptually and formally.

Through a range of media, I have been exploring ways to represent the city and the island of Manora.  My concern here is at once spatial, psychic, and epistemic. The visual research on the island has become an observation point that informs my broader project of examining the port city of Karachi, its urban sprawl, its history, and contested modes of sovereignty.

Desire and memory is linked to the urban space through its built and un-built structures.  I am constantly drawn to construction sites within the city, which offer a metaphor for reimagining the body of the un-built structure.  For me, it is a site that is still porous and malleable to the imagination.  In this way, the idea of re-constructing the map is a way to open the terrain/locale and conceptualize it through the emotional, real and imagined topography of the city. Thus, personal experience, our anxieties and desires become the primary source for the visual frame.


Born in 1968, Naiza H. Khan is based in Karachi, Pakistan. Khan trained at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford and Wimbledon School of Art, London.  Her first, solo museum show: ‘Karachi Elegies’ opened this year at the Eli and Edythe Broad Museum of Art in Michigan State University, US.   This coincides with her first monograph co-published by ArtAsiaPascific and the Broad Museum. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including the 2012 Shanghai Biennale and Hanging Fire: Contemporary Art from Pakistan at the Asia Society in New York.

A founding member and longtime coordinator of Vasl Artists’ Collective in Karachi, Khan has worked to foster art in the city, and participated in a series of innovative art projects in South Asia. She has also curated the seminal exhibition “The Rising Tide:  New Directions in Art from Pakistan 1990-2010” at the Mohatta Palace Museum, Karachi.  Naiza is currently lecturing at the Visual Studies Department at Karachi University. Please click this link for an extended biographical statement: Naiza H Khan_Bio

The event, presented by FASS Cities Research Cluster, will take place from 5 to 6:30pm (one hour presentation + half hour Q & A session) and will be chaired by Associate Professor Vineeta Sinha (FASS Sociology Department and South Asian Studies Programme).

The venue is the Research Division Seminar Room at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, in the AS7 Shaw Foundation Building, level 6, room 42. The Research Division Seminar Room, 06-42, is in The Shaw Foundation Building (AS7) of FASS, NUS, at Kent Ridge. The address of AS7 is 5 Arts Link, Shaw Foundation Building (S), 117570. To get to the Research Division Seminar Room, walk straight past the restrooms after exiting the elevator, then past the glass door on the left, and one door on the right. The seminar room is in front of you at the end of the corridor.

If you would like to attend, please RSVP with your name, email, and affiliation. Thank you and hope to see you there!