Zainab Zulfiqar

My work revolves around ritualistic flashbacks, as well as coping with the invasions of safe spaces, and how the documentation of these instances affects an individual. I am particularly invested in how negative nostalgia has contributed to changing my experiences of space, time, and memory. I remember the first time it hit me, I was working on a project based around Tracey Emin’s work “my bed”, and felt so uncomfortable and familiar with the feeling of despising my own room. A room that possessed evidence and history of generational trauma and memory. In these moments, I realized how disassociated I had become by my own past that when I was finally confronted with it, it held me, hostage, without warning.

I have tried to come to terms with trauma by considering the absurd in the mundane; how these everyday sounds, muscle memory, places, realities, and emotions weave together to become an absurd emotional reality that can trigger the past easily with no suspicion. This is why I have started cultivating a sort of fantastical narrative through my drawings, which are inspired by Persian and Lucknow miniature based on storytelling and stylization. This is also achieved by creating figures and spaces that are distorted, converging into each other, and at times showing blocks of disassociation. While also using video art with juxtapose / overlapping sounds to investigate the meaning of living through familiar surroundings but still being alienated. Since the very act of stylization has made the process much more palatable, not only for myself but also for the viewer.

The family unit is also something I am investigating; how it can come from a source of generational trauma that is never addressed. While making each individual live in a nuclear hetronormative system, completely isolated due to the social and cultural maintenance of appearances of perfection and silence.

I refuse to look at trauma only through clerical eyes, but want to divulge into the pains of researching into my own past as well as my personal history, and how generational trauma is inescapable, while simultaneously accepting the shreds of evidence of anger, pain, and the tributes that are being made in the process. This is why a big part of my process at times is to work with washes and written text since it enhances the safe space within my own world that I am trying to build.