Madiha Aijaz was a filmmaker and photographer, whose practice explored how pleasure and entertainment are experienced in public spaces.

She photographed railways, devotional towns and public libraries, studying spaces and communities that have become peripheral to civic life, but which by tenacity and chance continue to survive. Her book on Hindu temples, Call to Conscience was published in 2014. Aijaz was an Assistant Professor at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture and received an MFA in Photography from Parsons with a Fulbright Scholarship.

At Open Eye Gallery, Madiha Aijaz presented a new film installation. These Silences Are All the Words explores the public libraries of Karachi, Pakistan, against the backdrop of the city’s changing landscape. Focusing on librarians who have been working for years in traditional institutions such as Bedil Library, Aijaz tells the stories of an aging intelligentsia. The conversations with both librarians and the library’s users reflect on the shift of language from Urdu and its poetic and literary history to the ambition and individualism associated with English. Many of Aijaz’s works similarly offer a perspective on a country sharply divided along linguistic lines. Her work contextualises the complexity of the postcolonial state and its ambitions surrounding the English language, not only as the legacy of the Raj, but also as a tool for authority and social mobility. Using photography, film and text, Aijaz combines different media to present a city’s history from a literary point of view.

On view at the Playhouse theatre are two films by Aijaz. In Brown Sahib and the Pomeranian (2017) filmed at Ghalib Library, Karachi, a man tells his humorous story of the tradition in Pakistan of both naming and speaking to one’s dog in English.

Recent exhibitions include the Karachi Biennial, Pakistan (2017); 10th International Documentary & Short Film Festival of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, India (2017); IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival, New Delhi, India (2015); and Urban Flux Film Festival, Johannesburg, South Africa (2012).

Madiha Aijaz at Liverpool Biennial 2018

These Silences Are All The Words, 2018
Video, 12 min
Exhibited at Open Eye Gallery

The Librarians, 2018
Print on dibond
Exhibited at Open Eye Gallery

A Left from the Roundabout, 2018
Print on paper
Exhibited at Open Eye Gallery

Brown Sahab and the Pomeranian, 2017
Video, 1:30 min
Exhibited at The Playhouse theatre

Memorial for the Lost Pages, 2018
Video, 3:20 min
Exhibited at The Playhouse theatre

All commissioned by Liverpool Biennial, Karachi Biennale and The Tetley, as part of the New North and South programme, in collaboration with Hospitalfield and ROSL Art