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Who is she?

Across the globe, women are making a name for themselves in every possible domain. While in some other parts of the world, they even struggle for their identity. Throughout her life, she is referred as someone’s sister, daughter, wife or mother.

During one of my photography sessions in a local graveyard of Lahore, Pakistan, I noticed that some of the headstones of females graves don’t carry their names. Instead, they were identified by their relations with the male family elders. That’s when I realised that even though she devotes her entire life loving and caring for others, her struggle of finding her own identity continues even after her death.

My project includes around ten photographs with four screen prints. In these photographs I am using a green fabric which I took originally from one of the graves in Pakistan and I screen printed the Urdu words “Akhri Aram Gah” which means the last resting place, and people use these words on the gravestones very often. In Pakistan, India and Bangladesh a green cloth (usually known as ‘Ghilaf’ or ‘Chadar’) is placed on the grave of a pious Muslim man out of respect and for the benefit of the visitors so that they may understand and realize the status of the deceased muslim men. It’s just to make them aware of the holy person's status and gain auspiciousness from the holy person who is resting in the grave. Study shows it’s a cultural practice in the region and has nothing to do with the religion.

The purpose of photographing this screen printed green cloth over a female body was to capture different female postures. These postures consist of the life span of a woman and represent femininity as a whole. She is standing still observing the society around her, she is there in the crowd but no one feels her identity as she is covered from head to toe. Sometimes she has been asked to keep silent and sometimes she is sitting like a newlywed bride. In one of the photograph she’s dancing and in another she is lying dead on the floor. Her throughout covered face is a representation of her loss of identity in the society.

I am reclaiming that space and giving women the recognition they deserve for their selfless acts. I am initiating a conversation to eradicate this social taboo where we even cover the graves of the saints with a holy green cloth, but fail to write even her name on the headstone.

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