ATOMI DAAMAKI WALI MOHABBAT (THE ATOMICALLY EXPLOSIVE LOVE)
Of Tongues and Hands closing performance lecture
Atomi Daamaki Wali Mohabbat (The Atomically Explosive Love) is a multi-chapter animation and lecture performance that chronicles the history of nuclear power in Pakistan, the first ‘Muslim nuclear state’. Umber uses state and familial archives to intersect specific historical moments, starting with the successful nuclear tests performed in the 1990s to the conception/destruction of a military-state monument, Chaghi Monument Hill. Chaghi is a motif, location, and historical moment that is reconstituted within religious-state logic and in digital space. The interface is used as a reflexive canon to view this recent past, the images of the monument, moment of the blast, and associations of nation looming, haunting in the present. The green screen represents Islamic orientalism, Pakistani nationalism, as well as a projection space for the populist imagination. Using flora as a metaphor for embedded violence, the script narrativizes the nationalizing of flower, beauty, and love. This is a technique deployed by state propaganda and the narration is written through the lens of a fictional populist contemporary Urdu poet, inspired by an actual poem written by a patriarchal academic from Punjab University, Pakistan. The character is a reflection on how science, culture, and religion all intersect in mainstream populism in Pakistan; state propaganda has penetrated into the aesthetic and content of the everyday. The reading through the female (herself), allows for a queering and alternative historicizing of South Asia in an age of global nationalist uprisings.
Umber Majeed is a multidisciplinary visual artist. Her art training in Pakistan, New York, and Lebanon has activated a mapping of her cultural hybridity to negotiate tactics of sociality as an American born and raised, Pakistani-descent Muslim, woman of color. She received her MFA from Parsons the New School for Design in 2016 and graduated from Beaconhouse National University in Lahore, Pakistan in 2013. In July 2017, she completed the HWP fellowship at Ashkal Alwan in Beirut, Lebanon. Majeed has shown in venues across Pakistan, North America, and Europe. Recent group exhibitions include; ‘The Divided Self’, The Slought Foundation, Philadelphia (2012), ‘Ornate Activate’, Shirin Gallery, New York (2015), and “The Museum: Within and Without”, The State Hermitage Museum, St.Petersburg, Russia (2015), “welcome to what we took from is the state”, Queens Museum, New York (2016), and 'Promises to Keep', apexart, New York (2017). Her work has been acquired by several private collections, including the Lekha and Anupam Poddar Collection at the Devi Art Foundation in Gurgaon, India.