Intro post #2 Doing my part

In PERSONAL on December 13, 2012 at 7:52 pm

“Where do you come from?” is a question that people in Canada often ask.

I was born in Lahore, Pakistan where I had lived for sixteen years. I have lived in Canada for the last fourteen years.

So where do I come from?

I come from all of those places and from every experience in between. I use the word “places” because country is not a monolith, it too is an accumulation of cultures, places, and spaces. Most often what motivates my imagination and my desire to write are images and memories of sense perceptions from my childhood and adolescence. These motivations arise out of everything which is prior to language. They are most certainly visual, olfactory, and auditory.

In thinking through the above, in summer 2012 I took myself to the places of my childhood for real and was able to live with them and in them for a sustained period of time. Most exciting for me was the task of understanding place(s) in a historical and literate sense while being physically present with them. Although the inner city of Lahore was not a place I had frequented as a child, I ended up spending most of my time observing,  photographing, conducting oral research, and inserting myself in various landscapes of the inner city. It became clear to me that for the first layer of memory I did need to be in touch with familiar things but soon I was ready to explore the parts of the city I had not previously known in much detail. It also seemed evident that anything of value would come to me after the first layer of sentiment had been skimmed off, and when I would be able to delve deeper into the actual and the physical. For this reason I chose to begin my work (What Was Monumental in Us (WWMU) partially funded by the Ontario Arts Council, 2011) starting with the monuments of the Mughal Empire situated in inner city, Lahore. In addition to the monuments the walled city also offers the most visceral of scenes in its noise, its smells, its situated materiality and history, its sordidness, its colour, and character. At its heightened moments it IS the city.

The future

Expected June 2013, this blog will serve as a public’s history of the walled city. I will be posting locals’ stories, knowledge, and thoughts on historic buildings of the area. I will be transcribing in the residents’ own words a documentation of the buildings’ histories in a living community.


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