Marium Agha (Pakistan) was shortlisted for her work HEAR HEAR. Created using found tapestries from a Karachi flea market, Agha has deconstructed the fabric and altered the weave to create a new narrative.
How did you first become interested in tapestry?
Karachi hosted a very popular open-air market, where vendors from all walks of life had stalls to sell their goods to the people of the city every Sunday. It is in this market; I was acquainted with machine made tapestries being brought into the city by Afghan men. These tapestries were replicas of popular imageries of the Rococo era depicting scenes of love, youth, light-hearted entertainment, nature. As I walked past these stalls, I couldn’t help but wonder how misfitting these imageries were in contemporary language. It was almost like Bollywood in the 80’s selling love to the people of today. Couldn’t relate – couldn’t understand.
In the confessions of St. Augustine, written between AD 397 and 400, he confesses his sinful youth for the concupiscence of the flesh – this seemed more relevant in contemporary language of love. So, one day, I bought one large tapestry for PKR 2000. It portrayed a man sitting at the feet of a woman, possibly courting her. I hung that piece in my home studio and for months just stared at it while doing household chores, tending to my 2year old daughter.
The tapestry stared back.
Finally, I mustered enough courage to pick up a pair of scissors and cut up the tapestry. It was time I addressed the narrative it portrayed and re-create it into something that wasn’t too far away from contemporary reality. I created my first narrative by re-constructing the tapestry on a new fabric and de constructed the yarn of the tapestry and re constructed it with newer thread, but this time, the image wasn’t static. It moved. Each colour of the original tapestry was drawn to create a movement, the women became flesh to devour, and the man masked as the consumer. The borders, the rope and colours fell off, the weave left unfinished. The rawness of the work was the start of a new narrative – a narrative which had a place in today’s language of love.
Can you tell us a bit more about the origins of the materials that you have reworked to create ‘HEAR HEAR’?
Sunday markets do not exist anymore, but contacts that were established with the Afghan men over a period of 10years have help me enormously to always have the first pick of the stock they get from China. ‘HEAR HEAR’ is the culmination of 2 different tapestries to re work a new narrative.