Alia, it’s been five years since you where shortlisted for The Sovereign Asian Art Prize. How has your career progressed since 2015? Can you tell us about some new projects you have been working on?
A lot has happened in the last five years, but I have to say that this last year has beat all the odds and I’m sure everyone around the world feels the same way. My husband and I have moved more than once in the last year, across continents and then within Europe as well. It has certainly been an adventure! 2020 got off to a promising start with a really wonderful, and in some ways ground-breaking, Artist in Residence Program I attended – The Trélex Residency in Switzerland, founded and run by Nina Rodin, an inventive and most generous artist. In terms of art making, I have made more work in this last year than I probably have in the previous four years put together! This is because I have never had this much time to focus on my art practice.
Shortly after I was nominated by my mentor, artist extraordinaire Naiza Khan, shortlisted for The Sovereign Asian Art Prize, I primarily worked on curatorial research projects as Head Curator with Khaas Gallery. In 2016, we participated in two art fairs in London – Art15, Olympia and START Art Fair, Saatchi Gallery. I also independently co-curated Āto Nexus, an Artist’s in Residence program in Tokyo, with designer and artist Ilona Yusuf that culminated in an exhibition at the Pakistan Embassy.
In 2017, I participated in an Artist’s Research Fellowship, From the Scroll to the Book, at the University of Shanghai and exhibited at the International Peace Culture Foundation and Garden Museum in Beijing. Coincidentally, this project was curated by fellow shortlisted artist Farrah Mahmood. The Sovereign Asian Art Prize was therefore the first of many wonderful projects in the Far East that I was fortunate enough to be part of. I then went on to independently curate several projects in Pakistan. In the middle of these curatorial projects, whenever I had snippets of time to myself, I would strive to keep making my own work and managed to keep my studio practice going simultaneously.
I have also participated in multiple international exhibitions, including in Macedonia, Italy, Berlin, as well as in Pakistan, most of which took place at Koel Gallery. I also have an important project around the corner – my recent work is part of the very first online chapter of the Accessible Art Fair Brussels, spearheaded by Canadian entrepreneur in the arts and curator, Stephanie Manasseh and managed by Salvatore Costantino.