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Emotional States

October 9, 2018
By A. Jafri

I magine you walk into a room but step into another world - a world of moving images....

women

Imagine you walk into a room but step into another world - a world of moving images, snapshots and fleeting moments that burst to life as you move across. Works of arts are considered the best medium for storytelling because they not only narrate one; they make you feel them too.

The second edition of the London Design Biennale was recently held at the prestigious Somerset House in London. Pakistan was amongst 40 countries participating and interpreting this year’s theme of ‘Emotional States’ via its official pavilion ‘Aangan’.

The exhibit was done by Wagging Tongues Productions in collaboration with the Kaarvan Crafts Foundation, an organisation dedicated to empowering rural women by providing life skills that could prove to be opportunities towards attaining economic and material goods.

Aangan was a multi-layered installation of garments (hand-stitched and hand embroidered by female artisans), sounds and videos. ‘Aangan’ - meaning the courtyard of a traditional home or haveli - aspired to capture the sense of community inherent in the country’s female-dominated textile industry. It is Pakistan’s largest manufacturing sector where women constitute a major part of the half a million cotton pickers in the country. This installation celebrated their pivotal role, which is largely unrecognised throughout this industry. It depicted the social context in which much of what we wear is made.

Speaking of the exhibit, it responded to the movement of the viewers. The garments would turn into a live canvas, with film projections revealing the human stories of the makers. “The garments come alive with words, patterns and moving imagery, giving a glimpse into the inner world of the artisan as she crafts. The stories that unfold are inherently emotional. We want to celebrate these unsung heroes, as breadwinners, mothers and creators focused on their resilience, courage, tenacity and their emotional relation to their craft. The aim was to invoke a similarly emotional response in the viewer. Through imagery, sound design and the interactive experience we hoped to engage the visitors in an immersive experience and to prompt compassion with the human story at the heart of it,” explained Mariam Majid, the curator, filmmaker and sculptor.

Overall, the biennale explored big questions and ideas about sustainability, migration, pollution, energy, cities, and social equality. Visitors enjoyed engaging and interactive installations, innovations, artworks and proposed design solutions - all in an immersive, inspiring and entertaining tour of the world.

- A. Jafri