The focus of my research has been on the daily lives of South Asian women, specifically in my home city of Karachi,Pakistan. Within my art practice, I draw from my experiences of how I inhabit public and private spaces and rely on research from other South Asian scholars interested in gender, urban space and the right to everyday life. Much of my investigation has been on how middle-class women in Pakistan navigate public spaces in its metropolitan cities. My research into how gender is interwoven in demarcations between and connotations of public and private spaces, has led me to deeply examine what private spaces and boundaries mean to women for whom unconditional access to public spaces is still a fantasy.
Within my art practice I investigate “phenomenal boundaries”, a term coined by sociologist Bridget Purcell, that is, the boundary not as “real”, but as experienced and constituted (or not) by its inhabitants. My aim is to think about place from the lens of gender and discuss phenomenal boundaries that women create to feel safer in public spaces, as well as the phenomenal boundaries of fear that women experience when they step into a public place. Examining my relationship with place has led me to a deeper and expansive definition of phenomenal boundaries as constraining, or safe, and sometimes both at the same time.
My installation, titled Transgressing boundaries investigates how women transgress and negotiate phenomenal boundaries to claim agency while also examining how the many boundaries women create to access public space, are in fact fragile and can easily be disrupted. I want to highlight the everyday labor women invest to transgress certain phenomenal boundaries and maintain others.