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Huma Mulji

Born 1970, Karachi; lives and works in Lahore

High Rise: Lake City Drive
Taxidermic buffalo, sheet metal, fiberglass, henna, and Duco paint
H. 137 7/8 x W. 82 7/8 x D. 26 7/8 in. (350 x 210 x 68 cm)
Collection of the artist
Image courtesy of the artist


The irony of Pakistan simultaneously living three hundred years in the past and thirty years in the future, desiring to be at once the most forward-looking, and unable and unwilling to negotiate its traditional values with this idea of progress, is evident everywhere in the country. Yet, we are not comfortably pluralistic either. There are fantastic conflicts of taste, language, and images.

High Rise: Lake City Drive is informed by the absurd and incongruous visual confrontations that occur around us. It attempts to juxtapose these colliding metaphors, to envision this surreal reality. Sculpturally too, the work underscores the conflict. The suspension of volume and weight (the man-made pylons, symbolic of power and progress) is held off by nature (the buffalo, symbolic of traditional values and strength in an old-fashioned way).

High Rise avoids the easy taking of sides in imagining a future urban landscape of Pakistan. It acknowledges the shades of grey evident in the complexities and ethics of mass urbanization and the quest to realize the dreams of an aspiring, new, house-owning, suburban middle class.

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