At the turn of the twenty-first century, a growing number of Pakistani artists embraced the nation’s perceived visual languages and political, social, and cultural history to interrogate and unpack Pakistan’s contemporary society and identity. The fruits of this shifting and mixing were works of art that turned artistic and societal traditions, from miniature painting to matrimonial rites, on their sides even as they upheld their significance. Through their works, artists examined and expressed the complicated nature of Pakistani national and cultural identities by looking at the society’s most volatile concerns. The artists did not simply present these critical issues; they played with them. It is this playful contemporary artwork that this book analyses within a context of art practices in Pakistan, pedagogical methods at art schools in the nation, and the impact of larger historical events and social processes: colonialism, the partition of India and Pakistan, and globalization.
Atteqa Ali is an art historian, independent curator, and writer based in Connecticut. She has written for several publications, including an essay that examines fundamentalism, terrorism, and art in Pakistan for the anthology, Contemporary Art: 1989 to Present (Wiley Blackwell, 2013) and an essay on the impact of institutions in the UAE on contemporary art in the MENASA for the anthology, Museums in Arabia: Transnational Practices and Regional Processes (Routledge, 2016). Her book-length study of socially engaged art in the extended Middle East region is entitled, Collaborative Art Praxis and Contemporary Art Experiments in the MENASA (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020). She has organized several exhibitions including a project at Twelve Gates Gallery in Philadelphia entitled, ‘Back to the Future: History and Contemporary Art in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia’ that considered the work of artists utilizing historical references to talk about current social and political events.