Mashal is a mixed media textile artist from Karachi, Pakistan. Her inquiries centre around knowledge and the nature of knowing. She investigates these ideas through making, movement and sitting meditation practices. Mashal’s research travels readily between lived experiences of women in her family and craft practices of South Asia. Her engagement with history is bodily and ongoing.
REVISIT // What Does it Mean to Make a Relation?
My inquiries for the last two years have circled steadily around this question. I have found knowledge-seeking to be a practice in service of relation, and embodiment to be a critical starting point for knowledge.
I use craft-based processes to gather insight and make relations with self, place, creatures and matter. I work slowly to encourage stillness and allow insight to arise in the body.
The work finds its roots in my own Vipassana meditation practice, and the thesis of Donna Haraway’s 1984 article: ‘Situated Knowledges’ which interrogates and dismantles the notion of scientific objectivity, arguing instead for a knowledge that is partial, subjective, and embodied. When we learn to see from inside our own bodies, we understand that there is no transcendence, no god’s eye view. That all views come from an inhabited body, thus necessarily representing a partial perspective and that we are all “answerable for what we learn how to see.”
For me, making is an investigative act. Life can be full of these, and they all ask: what is possible? And what else? Engaging in these acts helps us return and remember. We can assign meaning but with a light touch. This too, is learning a history or a story. It is a way of being in the world that prizes 'finding out'. And it is alive, incomplete and never ending.
As a practitioner, I often use a textile or material artefact as a starting point -- an apt vehicle, a receptacle, a holder. A textile process is a way of seeking insight - for quieting the discursive mind, finding flow, and letting another intelligence emerge.
This show is both a brief stopping point and a commemorative, documentative act. Processes combine to give insight about the nature of living, relating and being in the body. Histories are shown to be non-textual, bodily, carried and held. Outcomes are incidental, and there is no piece that is the 'hero of the story'.
May we always know the ground, even in liminal, unfinished things.
From top left:
- Tram I, digital photograph, 2020
- Untitled (from Safia series), digital photograph, 2021
- Yes and no (1/2), digital photograph, 2021
- Yes and no (2/2), digital photograph, 2021
- Untitled (from Roohi series), digital photograph, 2021
- Dobby panel and hooks, digital photograph, 2021
- Achi Ammi by unknown photographer, scanned archival photograph, 1951.
- Untitled (Unspun Eri), digital photograph, 2020
Muhammad Altaf Ansari, Master Weaver
Amjad Ahmed Ansari, Loom Designer
Parvez Ahmed, Loom Carpenter and Colourist
Anis Ahmed, Weaver and Loom Technician
List of Objects (from top left):
1. Cotton gauze, sandpaper and sodium carbonate -- gifted to me by Parvez Bhai to finish sanding and painting my warping frame. Karachi, 2021.
2. Necklace and pendant --
Gifted by my mother (Ami) to her mother (Achi Ammi) after marriage. Karachi, 1979.
Left to Popy when Achi Ammi died. Ottawa, 1986.
Worn by Mena and Malo on their weddings (as teeka). Los Angeles, 1989 and Ottawa, 1996.
Gifted by Popy to me. Karachi, 2021.
3. Ami’s trousseau kameez, silk chiffon with ganga jamuni. Lahore, 1975.
4. Leftover clippings from shortening dobby hooks, metal alloy. Karachi, 2021.
5. Milk pot. London, 1975.
6. A prayer, hand-dyed cotton with fresh marigold. Karachi, 2021.
7. Golden zari yarn, polyester. Karachi, 2021.
8. Sawdust from loom, mixed wood. Karachi, 2021.
9. Reed hook, metal alloy -- fashioned on the spot for and gifted to me by Anis using an extra dobby hook and a set of pliers as a hammering surface. Karachi, 2021.
10. Untitled (8 Days), cotton, 32 x 194 cm -- first piece woven during my apprenticeship with Altaf Baba and Anis Ahmed. Karachi, 2019.