Through a public art performance in 2006, Pakistani artiste Ayesha Jatoi chose to challenge the urban landscape, where witnessing fighter jets, submarines, tankers and canons installed at roundabouts was a routine experience. The Lahore-based artiste chose a fighter jet mounted at China Chowk, which was used in the 1971 war against Bangladesh, as the centerpiece for her performance. At noon, she hung out garments dyed in red to bring out the contrast of a small private act of washing with a history of war, destruction, killing and violence. The reaction of the audience has always played an important role in her public intervention projects such as this, said the 36-year-old artiste at the India Art Fair, which ended on Sunday.
“Like they say, a painting is never completely finished until the audience sees it. The same holds true for me. The audience plays a very important role,” said Jatoi. Perhaps this is the reason why she chose to put up a billboard with the words “Aap ko abhi kitni aurtain nazar aa rahi hain?” (How many woman can you see right now?) in 2008 in a bustling market in Lahore that was full of men but without a single woman. “During my first visit to India, I saw three women on the road, happily walking and talking among themselves. Not a single muscle in their body was tense. I was amazed by such freedom,” says Jatoi, at her hour long session, Spotlight, with Lala Rukh, a feminist activist and artist from Pakistan whose works pioneered the South Asian minimalist tradition.
Following in the footsteps of Rukh, Jatoi talked about how her text-based works draw majorly from the tradition of Persian miniature paintings to explore themes of nostalgia, memory, and desire. She converts scenes from classical miniatures into minimalistic compositions of line and text, examples of which were at the fair.