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Osman Yousefzada’s exhibition: Timely exploration of displacement, integration, climate change

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A three-part art exhibition crafted by British Pakistani artist Osman Yousefzada is running at the Victoria and Albert Museum in central London.

With one exception that refers to colonial buildings as spaces “divided according to race and class”, the descriptions about Yousefzada’s exhibition do not explicitly mention colonialism. 

Instead, the artwork focuses on aspects of the Pakistani, and wider South Asian, identity that exist apart from and in spite of British colonialism which, much like in many British conversations, often remains an unspoken but known spectre hovering just below the surface.

— Provided by author
— Provided by author

The theme that stood out the most was of integration. The integration, or lack thereof, of the inhabitants who migrated from modern-day India to Pakistan during partition. The integration of traditional aspects of South Asia identity and history within the forming of a new Pakistani identity and the tension or compatibility between the two.

While the theme of colonialism was not often explicit, it is naturally difficult not to reflect on it. The V&A, named after the very monarch once declared the ‘Empress of India’ and her consort, seemed the most appropriate place in the UK for an installation depicting the themes of partition. 

Education on the impact and aftermath of colonialism should strike at the heart of society and leave an indelible mark on our minds, just as this exhibition does. 

— Provided by author
— Provided by author

After all, it was within the context of the British colonial powers intensifying the communal tensions and animosity through divide and rule, coupled with fears for the preservation of the Muslim community in an independent, Hindu-majority India, that the demand for a separate Muslim homeland within South Asia originated. 

But, this exhibition reminds us that the Pakistani identity encapsulates so much more than this, with many of its aspects pre-dating or separate from what the British did in South Asia.

Three tapestries hang at one of the entrances to the museum. They depict figures described as “suggestive of ancient Talismanic figures, and storytelling,” inspired by a book called Falnama, which would later become the roots of tarot cards used in Mughal India among other places. 

— Provided by author
— Provided by author

The figures are also said to reflect those found at Mohenjo Daro, an ancient Indus civilisation settlement situated in Sindh. The striking relevance of this piece to the overarching themes appears to be that it contains figures who have a “long history of struggle who do not see themselves as ‘the good immigrant.”

The tapestries are an important reminder of the rich history of the land of Pakistan. It stands at the crossroads between diverse civilisations, cultures and religions during many different stages of history: a crucial challenge to the colonial mindset that believed it ‘discovered’ places and brought ‘civilisation’ and ‘history’ with it. Instead, each pre-existing civilisation represents a thread woven into this larger tapestry that constitutes modern-day Pakistan, influencing folklore, language, dress and music.

— Provided by author
— Provided by author

Another work in this challenging exhibition is a sculpture that looks like a tall stack of shelves, on which are placed household objects wrapped in fabrics or plastic.

Described as an “altar to female migratory experience,” it is a “tribute to the hidden women who were not able to or did not possess the codes to integrate in new lands”.

Indeed, its positioning within the stairwell feels like a nod to the fact that the female voice has been sidelined, not occupying the central stage of our attention. But women had their own experiences of partition, most upsettingly the well-documented kidnappings and rapes in addition to upheaval. 

But this sculpture, as an “act of agency in patriarchal spaces,” works to identify and remember those women. As the artist suggests, every unique fold and knot were “their marks of identity and ownership.”

— Provided by author
— Provided by author

The garden is home to a third part of the installation. To echo the fluidity of migration and change, the work consists of movable peerhi stools. In the centre are charpai beds made from salvaged fabrics and wood, the latter from what would have been pieces of colonial architecture which the artist describes as having been “dropped from vertical to horizontal axis, shifting the power dynamic from a hierarchical to communal architecture.” 

This felt like a lesson, that something quite beautiful and familiar has been salvaged from the ugly, unequal power distribution of colonialism, which South Asians have dismantled and, from it, reformed and remade their traditional items that have a history apart from the British. This would certainly be an emotive act of defiance and reclaiming.

The remainder of this section consists of a wooden vessel placed not on the water but on dry land, designed to symbolise “colonial expansion and present-day climate precarity.” 

While Pakistan has for decades been listed among the most vulnerable countries to climate change, this year’s heatwaves followed by extreme flooding hit home this point. A country that contributes relatively low carbon emissions is bearing the brunt of climate change, when former colonial powers, like the UK, have contributed more and yet suffer less. Displacement is not confined to the history books but a lived experience of today, with this year’s flooding causing migration, loss of life and the destruction of livelihoods. Unless swift action is taken by nations collaboratively to combat climate change, these experiences will become the new normal.

This exhibition plays a vital role in inspiring us to reflect upon the realities of displacement, integration and climate change by inhabiting our public spaces. It challenges the whitewashing of colonial narratives by providing an insight into the multifaceted traditions that thousands of years of history has fostered in the land that modern-day Pakistan inhabits today; traditions that not only pre-date British history in South Asia, but have survived it. And for all these reasons, Osman Yousefzada’s exhibition most certainly deserves a visit.

— Provided by author
— Provided by author

Running until September 25 at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Yousefzada’s artwork was commissioned by the British Council as part of its ‘Pakistan/UK: New Perspectives Season,’ in partnership with the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Pakistan High Commission. It has also been supported by the ZVM Rangoonwala Foundation.

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Yasir Hussain warns artist of action over wife Iqra Aziz inaccurate sketch

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Expressing his annoyance over the inaccurate sketch of his wife, Iqra Aziz, eminent actor Yasir Hussain urged the “artist” not to draw his wife’s sketch again.

Sharing the sketch, drawn by one of her fans, on his Instagram account, Hussain — on a lighter note — warned the “online artist” of legal action if they try to do this again.

— Instagram/ yasir.hussain/screengrab/
— Instagram/ yasir.hussain/screengrab/

A user “C_4__colour” tagged their “masterpiece” to Iqra Aziz and expressed hope that she would like it. The “online artist” wrote on their account: “Sketching after soo long. Not accurate.”

Sharing the “masterpiece” with his fans, Hussain wrote: “Beta thank you. Good effort bus ainda meri bv ki ki tasveer nahi banani aap neBeta baat case pe chali jaye gi warna [Thank you child. It was a good effort but just don’t draw a sketch of my wife in the future, otherwise, you will have to face a case.”.

Colour’s work received a mixed reaction from the netzines.     

A user appreciated his work and remarked: “Good job”.

Another user: “No doubt sketching bht achi hai. iqra aziz nh bolei bs???? [No dbout the sketching is nice., but dont’ call it Iqra Aziz’s [sketch]”

Another user named ‘Laddyygorgeouss’ said: “Iqra aziz nh lg rhi [It doesn’t look like Iqra Aziz].”

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Zayn Malik: Ex-One Direction’s Urdu hit ‘Tu Hai Kahan’ leaves millions longing for more

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British heartthrob Zayn Malik, who is known to the world for his melodious vocals in English, has now tested his singing mettle by crooning an Urdu language love song — and apparently, the fans can’t get enough of it.

Collaborating with the Pakistani band “Aur”, Zayn features in the remake of their popular hit “Tu Hai Kahan” which has more than 95 million views on YouTube.

However, the remake too, has received significant praise from fans as the song has garnered more than 3.5 million views on the video-sharing platform.

Expressing his views on his experience of singing Urdu lyrics, the 31-year-old — a former member of the popular boy band One Direction — told BBC in an interviewthat he loved the song and hoped that fans would love the collaboration after he brought some of himself to the rendition.

This is not the first time Zayn has showcased his vocals in Urdu, as the British singer — who rose to fame after his music career kicked off via One Direction following his appearance on the British TV music competition “The X Factor” in 2010 — previously included Urdu lyrics in his track “Tightrope”, from his 2021 album “Nobody is Listening”.

The collaboration cannot be termed unexpected as the British singer — who was born and raised in Bradford — has Pakistani roots as his father immigrated to the UK from the South Asian nation.

This is how the fans reacted to Zayn’s collaboration with the Pakistani band.

“This is a great gesture by Zayn by collaborating with these youngsters and making their song much more popular than it was […] Zayn collaboration gave it those extra wings and wind to it,” commented a fan.

Zayn Malik: Ex-One Directions Urdu hit Tu Hai Kahan leaves millions longing for more

Meanwhile, another termed the song a “masterpiece” and thanked the British artist for encouraging the talented Pakistani artists.

“This collab is going to be my comfort song for a long time,” wrote an X user.

“Zayn stans will forever cherish this song. We truly appreciate you all for making this happen,” said another.

Whereas some fans were “shocked” to see how eloquently Zayn managed to sing Urdu lyrics.

“One of the best and unexpected collaborations ever […] truly a masterpiece,” a user commented on the song.

“Big love […] thanks for all the support,” Zayn said while reacting to the overwhelming praise from the fans.

The collaboration between Zayn and Aur — comprising Ahad, Usama, and Raffey — reflects the band’s open-minded approach to music as it believes that music has no boundaries, the essence of which is reflected in the song.

Reacting to the global popularity and overwhelming reactions from the fans, the band said they were taking Pakistani music to the world stage and “can’t wait for the world to vibe to their music”.

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Har Pal Geo becomes first entertainment channel to hit 5 million followers on WhatsApp

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Pakistan’s most popular entertainment channel, Geo Television’s Har Pal Geo, has made history by garnering a staggering 5 million followers on its WhatsApp channel — a tour de force that remains a dream for others.

This overwhelming achievement is a testament to the viewers’ immense love for the entertainment channel’s world-class content not only in Pakistan but also around the world.

Har Pal Geo has become the first entertainment channel to pull off that feat worldwide.

Taking to Facebook, Har Pal Geo’s team wrote: “A heartfelt thank you to our followers for making us the world’s first entertainment channel on WhatsApp to reach this milestone.”

 “Your support is truly invaluable,” it added.

Followers seem to have fallen in love with the top-notch content produced by Geo Entertainment, which is why its WhatsApp channel, too, is now becoming popular among the masses with many praising the diversity and variety of entertaining stories being told.

Followers remain glued to their screens watching theIqra Aziz and Talha Chahour starrer Mannat Murad andfollowing the storyline of Maa Nahi Saas Hoon Main, among other shows.

Meanwhile, fans are waiting with bated breath for their favourite on-screen pair Yumna Zaidi and Wahaj Ali to fire up the TV screens in the second season of Geo’s blockbuster drama serial Tere Bin.

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