My research explores healing practices in Pakistan’s delta and desert regions, ancient ecologies now ravaged by coal and dam infrastructure, where centuries of Shivaite and Sufi practices converge. Referencing Sufi cosmographic drawings and the Sri Yantras of Hindu/Buddhist traditions, I will create a series of devotional diagrams based on endangered ecological forms central to healing/mystical practice. These plants, vines, and trees are cosmic beings, apparitions of the divine in deathscapes devastated by energy infrastructures.
Zahra Malkani / Karachi, Pakistan — Nov 16, 2020
Working across different South Asian aniconist traditions, I will create dynamic, layered, and ephemeral imagery that venerates, invokes, and explores divinity as a system, as interrelation. Aniconist traditions grapple with problems and limitations of representation through the diagram form. How can the formless, immaterial spiritual/divine realm be represented in material or visual form? Visual representations of the divine threaten to make static that which is dynamic, flatten that which is deep, make singular and bounded that which is infinite and expansive. Diagrams are dynamic visualities representing duration, motion, relation. Devotional diagrams imagine divinity not as a being but as a system, a cosmic flow of relation. Creating these diagrams as an audiovisual web installation will allow for multilayered, interactive, fluid forms that explore divinity through endangered indigenous knowledge and ecology, thus envisioning other, alternative energy infrastructures latent in all being.
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