Rooms are never finished
Rooms are never finished', a title borrowed from Agha Shahid Ali, is a body of work that alludes to the shifting architectures of aspiration in a part of Karachi where the artist grew up. The neighbourhood is called Darakhshan Township, a development of Defence Housing Authority, and it consists of some 200 residential homes facing one edge of the Arabian sea (Seaview).
This work mulls over the shrinking of Seaview, a vibrant and free public beach enjoyed by masses escaping the weight of the city, and its relationship to the aspirations of a robust middle class living in Darakhshan across from it; upgrading, renovating and expanding their homes over the last 30 years. As the artist laments the loss of free public space on Seaview on the one hand, she looks at the land on which her own house stands on the other. It is reclaimed from the sea and eager to capture more space like the houses of her neighbours all around, begging an acknowledgement of her own complicity in the displacement of the beach and local ecologies she has loved in Karachi. Working through a series of interviews she looks at the aspirations of her neighbours and the workers on the beach to find that this complicity has surprising intersections across classes in the (often) self-destructive drive to develop the city.
Fortuitously framed by a house transformed into a gallery, this body of work hopes to peel away some skin and enter the underbellies of lives from a place of self-awareness. Like past projects this work explores fragments of longing also, but this time allows aspiration—a less seemly cousin—to peer through its clothes making the poetic rude, less self-indulgent, and local to a place that is magical even while it stumbles into unknown futures.