Maryam Kiyani

Visual Art & Research

Re-imagining Lahore as a Hindu City

Developed after 4+ months of primary and archival research, this audio-visual project attempts to understand the meaning of dwelling in the context of Lahore’s social, cultural, religious, and political mileus. This meaning is found by walking the margins of the modern city, searching amongst histories that have been neglected, and observing Lahore as a palimpsest. The theme I worked on focuses on the lives and politics of Hindus in Lahore. It reimagines Lahore as a Hindu city and celebrates the roots of the Hindu influence on the structures that stand tall in the city, such as the Islamia College at Civil Lines in Lower Mall, which was renamed from its earlier name, the Dayananda Anglo-Vedic College.

Lahore Khoji

As part of a course on Lahore, this project is a digital application that provides guided tours to Lahore’s walled city. It is built upon an attempt to understand the walled city by walking it; the act of walking allows that there be more room for familiarity and intimacy with the seemingly impersonal and museumalized city. To be a flâneur in the time of modernity’s fetish of consumerism and commodification is to resist norm, create anachrony, and retrieve the city as an archive of people’s involuntary memory. This presents a history and reality that is strikingly different and resultedly more well rounded from that presented through the romanticist eyes of the sovereign that claims to preserve the heritage of the country.

A Study of Ritual in Gutdwara Janam Asthan

As part of a course on historical documentation and digitization, this project is a heritage web portal of Gurdwara Janam Asthan. It consists of the gurdwara’s digital drawings that have been created on AutoCad, Kcolor Pani and AutoPano Giga, interviews of the site’s Guru Granth Ji, and a scholarly understanding of the concept of ritual. The project aims to go beyond a simple architectural understanding of a space of worship. Instead, it looks at how these spaces are forged in their true character not by the hand of the bricklayer or the skill of the artisan, but by a sustained intercourse between the devout visitor and the material space. The concept of ritual is the sacred rope which ties together the visitor, the space, and the teachings of the Gurus. It is a way of humanising the space, varnishing the bricks with the hopes, dreams, and prayers of a multitude which has come to supplicate and pay respects. It is a way of populating the inexorable structures of staunch material with the smiling ghosts of the past, and the uncertain phantoms of the present. It is a way of affirming tradition, piety, virtue, and humility. Above all, it is a way of connecting the devotee to the Transcendent.

Mitti and Mureedi in the Old City of Lahore

This film is an exploration of mitti and mureedi in the shrine of Mitti Wala Sarkar and Baba Tandoor Wala, originally known as Manzoor Hussain Shah and Umar Din respectively. Located in the middle of Lohari Gate and Mori Gate in the Old City of Lahore, the shrine is relatively smaller and less popular than other shrines in the walled city; Data Ganj Bakhsh is a few streets away. Our intent to visit and document this shrine stemmed from curiosity of how the shrine, and in particular, the two pirs shape the everyday lives of the people who inhabit the street and the vicinity. We want our short film to show a day in the street of the shrines as the people live and experience it. Our purpose is not to feed it to a larger narrative. More than our voices, we want our audience to listen to the tandoor workers, devotees, disciples, and caretakers speak. The film attempts to capture the street in its essence; tandoor kilns, langar, dhol, and never-ending tales of the baba jis, to observe how people’s understanding of the universe and cosmology is brought together in the work they do, and to portray the strong impact that the Mitti Wala Sarkar and Baba Tandoor Wala continue to have on the way people live their lives.

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