My practice involves intricate graphite drawings that are a hemming/stitching of divided land within South Asia. I follow a detailed process of research in which I select Pre-Partition towns that were once known for their exchange, whether through active trade, historic train routes or religious and cultural festivals. In the past, I have focused on water body conflicts and natural trans-border transgressions (think Delhi-Lahore Smog, Kashmir floods and Siachen avalanches) that have led to the temporary blurring of the Radcliffe line. I observe and record the aesthetics of delimitation from my current geographical location in Dubai, UAE. The window in my studio acts as a metaphorical watchtower from where I observe the surrounding regions of interest. The roads, connected to highways that lead to abandoned towns, hope to take viewers along on a journey that explores the past, present and future all at once.
In my more recent work, I have mapped the walkable route of the 1700-mile, pre- 3rd BCE Grand Trunk Road that connects Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. From Kabul to Torkham, Khyber Pass to Lahore, Wagha to Kolkata, I have mapped the region village by village in the detailed graphite landscapes. My smaller works are literal segments of no-man’s land, Kos minars and highway bridges. My recent fascination with the GT Road stems from the desire to highlight various possibilities of horizontal trade and exchange within the South Asian region.
- Saba Qizilbash