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Pakistani Artist Farida Batool Presents New Works in Her First Solo U.S. Exhibition at Aicon
Phool Mera Watan (My Land, A Flower) 2009 by Farida Batool, copyright the artist, image courtesy Aicon New York.

NEW YORK, NY.- The works of Farida Batool serve as metaphors for the political upheavals and tumultuous history of her country. They identify with the fear that is spread throughout Pakistan and the many citizens who have suffered at the hands of the regime; yet when away from it, Batool is constantly confronted with her own feelings of guilt, and nostalgia for her homeland. She magnifies and examines these emotions in her use of lenticular prints (3-d holographic photographs) as a medium. Their double-faceted layering allows the viewer to reflect upon the artist’s duel perspective, where the injustices of living in both the East and West are scrutinised.

At Aicon New York, Batool will show three new prints. Sohni Dharti 2 (Dear Land) shows an image of the artist walking through Russell Square in London (where she now lives) wearing modern clothes with a flavour of traditional Pakistani dress in the drape of the scarf around her neck. The vibrant reds and yellows of her clothes and the flowers in the park around her are symbolic of spring celebrations and festivals in Pakistan. The lenticular print transforms this peaceful scene into a cloud of smoke from the burning building of the Dyal Singh Mansion in Lahore, a colonial building that was targeted by religious extremists. The smoke appears to engulf Farida - eliminating her existence - as if the terror from her home country has finally caught up with her. Phool Mera Watan (My Land, A Flower) shows an aerial view of Lahore, as if looking through the bottom of a drone aircraft from which missiles could be dropped. The work depicts flowers and a baby ejected from the plane, floating above the ground with the artist’s homeland in the distance. Dekhna manaa hai! (Seeing is Prohibited) shows 450 pairs of eyes, placed like tiles on the wall as they look at the other works in the show and at us the viewer. The eyes blink and change direction as the viewer walks past the work. The piece emulates Batool’s feelings of discomfort and paranoia in expressing the constant surveillance of the ever-watchful eyes of the State, the Taliban and the media.

Alongside the lenticular prints will be a new series of works entitled Song of Love - Sohni Dharti. These mixed-media creations of digital images and pencil drawings show a pregnant belly superimposed onto drawings of military operations in the aftermath of a terrorist attack. The pregnant belly is emblematic of motherhood, protection and one’s homeland, whilst the ghostly images of death and destruction rise to the surface in an eerie yet poignant manner. Such gender orientation features strongly in Batool’s work as she calls upon her own experiences as a female citizen of Pakistan and the discrimination to which she was subjected while there.

Farida Batool was born and raised in Lahore. She is the daughter of a noted Pakistani legal scholar and expert in Shari’a law and was introduced to political activism from a young age. Batool received her BA in Fine Arts from National College of Arts, Lahore in 1993 alongside her contemporaries Faiza Butt, and Imran Qureshi. She received her MA in Art History and Theory (Research) from the College of Fine Arts at the University of New South Wales in Australia in 2003. She is now a PhD candidate in media and film studies at The School of Oriental and African Studies at University of London.

Farida Batool is also one of the participating artists in the gallery’s Aicon Editions project, showing the photographs Chand Meri Zameen (The Moon My Terrain) and Phool Mera Watan (My Land, A Flower).

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