Tag Archives: Rohtas 2

Pierced Perception



  1. Cut through with a sharp instrument; perforated.
  2. Of or relating to a body part that has been perforated for the purpose of attaching a piece of jewelry.

The title brings to mind openings and veils and insinuates the secrets beyond them. One thinks of what is hidden and revealed behind the facade of real. One also thinks of spaces within and without. One thinks of a great many things. Perception is such a deceptive and relative notion. It is the capacity for insight. I cannot even begin to define insight. Rending this capacity would create holes in the spaces where we define ourselves.

Piercing itself is an aggressive act. It borders on violation. Body piercing is like consenting violation. We penetrate our bodies with bits of metal and jewellery for decoration and some kind of base pleasure from the depths of our animal souls. This is not entirely unpleasant but I am digressing…

Pierced Perception (at the Rohtas 2 in Lahore from April 9th – 17th) featured the new works of Sophiya Khwaja and Zara Mahmood. I was at Rohtas 2 in person for the opening reception. This is entirely because:

  1. Sophiya is a very good friend of mine
  2. She is not an arty snob with delusions of grandeur
  3. I like her work because it is refreshing to my sensibilities

That aside, I have never really been to Rohtas 2 before. It is a nice space to show work. I missed my own show there once and will try not to do that again.

It was a hot day and there were loadshedding issues but the space looked beautiful and the work was interesting. Of course, I was mostly interested in my friend’s work, since I have been looking at it for a while. She has a remarkable mind, as can be seen from her images here.

Sophiya has managed to create a darkly funny reality, in which women balance grenades on their hips and a girl licks a bomb like it was candy (among other darkly funny images). This dark humor is hugely relevant and meaningful. It perforates and pierces the veil of reality and turns it all sideways and upside down.

What makes her work special to me is how it is so damn cool. Yes, that’s right, its cool. Most of the work I see around me is trying so hard to be deep and meaningful and somehow it totally misses the point of what we’re like, really. And for me, that counts the most. If you’re telling a story, then I should get it in the context of how and when I live in this world. Sophiya manages to do just that.