We are the Mirror and the Face in it

We are the Mirror and the Face in it

Photographing the walls of Lahore Fort
By Sadaf Chughtai

The surface of a historical monument is a lot more complex than its physical composition. It bears the mark of the maker, the invader, the conqueror, the resident and the visitor. It stands as a witness not only to a history of glory but also the inglorious. How do we want to see our history? How do we want to see ourselves? We are both, the mirror, and the face in it.

The following photo essay is a selection of images from various visits to the Lahore fort, a wider selection of which culminated in an exhibition in 2010. The Walls of Lahore Fort present a stunning display of historic frescoes merged with public texts. While photographing these walls I was taken by the beauty of their surface – testimony of a mark making activity. I was looking at paintings, framing specific fragments of layered time waiting to be deciphered like a palimpsest. This particular compilation tries to decipher these frames as documents of a narrative that is multifaceted in its voice and honest in expression. Here in its walls, the monument along with its baggage of history and promise of eternity becomes a site where authority is contested, where history was, and is made and erased, and where the fight over who is to remain is fought through the writing on the wall.

Sadaf Chughtai has a BFA in Design Arts from Concordia University, Montreal, Canada and an MA in Art and Design Studies from Beaconhouse National University (BNU), Lahore Pakistan. Sadaf’s practice is mainly in print media and photography. She had her first solo exhibition of photographic works in 2010 at Rohtas 2 Gallery and has participated in several group exhibitions since. Sadaf is interested in material culture and the manifestations/interactions of history in the everyday, particularly in the urban context of the city of Lahore. She is currently visiting faculty at various art institutions, and also works as a freelance designer and photographer in Lahore.


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There is a connection, hard to explain logically but easy to feel, between achievement in public life and progress in the arts.

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