Performance Art

Play is akin to sleep: It lets you dream, and in the dreaming, discover.

Therein lies the magic of performance. It vitalises our fantasies and nightmares.

Mnemonics for This and That

March 2019Itinerant performance with Furhan R. Hussain using measuring tape, chalk outlines, glow sticks, yarn, paper and text; 180 min. The Quantum City: Territory/Space/Place; Karachi Port Trust Building, Karachi

Two "explorer-archaeologists" organically map the exhibition space using measuring tape, chalk outlines, glow sticks and text. As evidence of people, objects, relationships and situations multiplies through the evening, this piece presents a microcosm of the secret poignancy and inanity of life in the city.

In Italo Calvino's fictional city Ersilia, inhabitants "establish the relationships that sustain the city's life" by crisscrossing lengths of colour-coded string. As this signage overwhelms the space it records, the people dismantle their dwellings and relocate—leaving the strings and their supports behind: "spiderwebs of intricate relationships seeking a form". Similarly, The Quantum City is marked by what it is and has been.

A New Dance (Embracing Sisyphus)

September 2018Interactive performance in office attire 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 knees that cannot bend. Whenever he nears the end, coins spill from his hands, sending him clambering down again. This is a look at 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 in shalwar kameez 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 2016Electric tea kettle, milk jug, sugar pot, teacup and saucer; artwork, balloons, bench, bottle of soda, fairy lights, fishing wire, laboratory stand, ladder, pallets, plastic bag, potted palm, sack of rice, shirt on a hanger, sofa, stool; 4:34 min.Performance for video; Karachi

This 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 ecology and place...

Carte Blanche

December 2014Interactive itinerant performance in all-white attire; 120 min.Dreamscape; Amin Gulgee Gallery, Karachi

On the surface, Carte Blanche is the simple act of a mime artist mirroring visitors to the show (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 title (‘freedom to act’ and ‘blank slate’). Below the surface, it is about the possibility, even necessity, of writing (and rewriting) over the self—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 itinerant 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—an experiment in what the process could instigate within the performer and those being conversed with. Attendees were awkward, confused, amused or excited—and sang back. This even lead to small groups spontaneously conversing in song. Astonishingly, the process changed not only sentence structures, but thoughts themselves.


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

With performance, what is it that lingers? What travels forward across time?

It's that jolt to the heart and mind; the stirred senses.