Madiha Aijaz

Madiha Aijaz, These Silences Are All The Words (film still), 2017-2018. Image courtesy the artist

Madiha Aijaz, These Silences Are All The Words (film still), 2017-2018. Image courtesy the artist

Madiha Aijaz (b. 1981, Karachi, Pakistan) lives and works in Karachi, Pakistan. Working with photographs, film and fiction, Aijaz’s practice is concerned with how pleasure and entertainment are experienced in public spaces. She photographs railways, devotional towns and public libraries, studying spaces and communities that have become peripheral to civic life, but which by tenacity and chance continue to survive. Her book on Hindu temples, Call to Conscience was published in 2014. Aijaz is an Assistant Professor at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture and holds an MFA in Photography from Parsons with a Fulbright Scholarship. 

At Open Eye Gallery, Madiha Aijaz presents a new film installation. These Silences Are All the Words explores the public libraries of Karachi, Pakistan, against the backdrop of the city’s changing landscape. Focusing on librarians who have been working for years in traditional institutions such as Bedil Library, Aijaz tells the stories of an aging intelligentsia. The conversations with both librarians and the library’s users reflect on the shift of language from Urdu and its poetic and literary history to the ambition and individualism associated with English. Many of Aijaz’s works similarly offer a perspective on a country sharply divided along linguistic lines. Her work contextualises the complexity of the postcolonial state and its ambitions surrounding the English language, not only as the legacy of the Raj, but also as a tool for authority and social mobility. Using photography, film and text, Aijaz combines different media to present a city’s history from a literary point of view.

On view at the Playhouse theatre are two films by Aijaz. In Brown Sahib and the Pomeranian (2017) filmed at Ghalib Library, Karachi, a man tells his humorous story of the tradition in Pakistan of both naming and speaking to one’s dog in English.

Recent exhibitions include the Karachi Biennial, Pakistan (2017); 10th International Documentary & Short Film Festival of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, India (2017); IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival, New Delhi, India (2015); and Urban Flux Film Festival, Johannesburg, South Africa (2012).

Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial, Karachi Biennale and The Tetley, as part of the New North and South, in collaboration with Hospitalfield and ROSL Arts 


The Playhouse theatre
Williamson Square
L1 1EL

Open Tuesday–Saturday 11am–6pm, Sunday 12–4pm, Free

Exhibition open until 7 October 2018


Open Eye Gallery
19 Mann Island
L3 1BP

Open Tuesday–Sunday 10am–5pm, Free