Performance Art

With performance, what is it that lingers? What is it that travels forward across time? ...That jolt to the heart and mind, that jolt to the senses.

A New Dance (Embracing Sisyphus)

September 2018Interactive performance with knee immobilisers and coins; 180 min. Mix Tape (I); Canvas Gallery, Karachi

This performance on loop both invites and repels interaction. A man repeatedly struggles to climb a staircase, hindered by an inability to bend his knees. Near the top, coins spill from his hands, sending him clambering down again. It is an investigation into how people respond when their sense of space or self is violated by the unexpected—by that which demands humility, compassion and resilience... It is recognition of the forms being human can take.

Halt + Flow

October and November 2017Interactive performance on reflective vinyl, sandpaper and foam; 120 min. Karachi Biennale; NJV School, Karachi

http://www.kbcuratorial.com/artists/momin-zafar

The Salt that Came to Tea

February 2016Tea kettle, cup and saucer, ladder, stool, fishing wire, bottle of soda, plastic bag; 4:34 min.Performance for video; Karachi

The Salt that Came to Tea is a reflection on the casualness of human inhabitance; how innocuous one's intent can be—and how destructive. Its percussive accompaniment was played on a construction labourer's iron all-purpose bowl.

Is performance not a kind of architecture? We sketch routes, portals and edifices with our selves. Oh, to manifest a truly sensitive human hand! A respectful approach to space and ecology.

Carte Blanche

December 2014Interactive performance; 120 min.Dreamscape; Amin Gulgee Gallery, Karachi

On the surface, Carte Blanche is the simple act of a mime artist mirroring visitors, especially anyone who engages directly with the performer. The result is a variety of surreal, often humorous interactions that invoke both the familiar and literal meanings of the phrase (‘freedom to act’ and ‘blank slate’). Below the surface, it is about the possibility and necessity of writing (and rewriting) over the self—as a means of compassionate identification with the other and, equally importantly, engagement with the unity of the universe.


(Right, above) Carte Blanche responding to Joshinder Chaggar's Autumn Leaves(Right, below) Interacting with a visitor

Motes* in a Sunbeam (Beyond a Vacuum)

January 2014Interactive performance and crayon outlines; 210 min.Play! The Sixth IVS Alumni Show; IVS Gallery, Karachi

In Motes in a Sunbeam (Beyond a Vacuum), all conversations were conducted in song, as an experiment in what the process could instigate within the performer and those being conversed with. It left some visitors awkward and confused, others were amused or excited and sang back. It even lead to small groups spontaneously conversing in song. Astonishingly, not only did this process change sentence structures, it changed thoughts themselves.


*Motes are the particles floating invisibly through space. When illuminated, they dance together; in letting themselves be seen, they break free.

Play is a form of sleep; it lets you dream and, in the dreaming, discover. Therein lies the magic of performance: It vitalises our fantasies and nightmares. Temporal and physical immediacy propel participants and viewers into a state of discovery. And once something is known…it might be forgotten or even unrealised—but never unknown.