This is a particularly poignant time to engage with Pakistani sculptor Adeela Suleman’s artistic offerings. To look at her work, to understand it, absorb it, brings forth intense optimism with every inhalation. And with every exhalation, a churning distress.
You could think of Suleman as a Karachi woman. Karachi-main, to emphasise how deeply rooted she is in one of the most pulsating cities in the world. It is also a real-life urban, Gangs of Wasseypur kind of place, embroiled also in the conflicts of the larger space.
When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the Mujahiddin were brought to life to combat them. When the Soviets retreated, the Taliban was born. This was the early 1990s. By the time 9/11 happened a decade later, Karachi was in the bloody embrace of local ethnic warfare, laced with militancy.
It was also a quintessentially South Asian megacity: bursting at the seams with people, while simultaneously imploding with patriarchy. Then, the shadow of the Twin Towers darkened Karachi’s skies. Some Talibans, too, made it their home. Not too long ago, Pakistan’s most cosmopolitan city was also considered its most violent. But this is Suleman’s home, her muse: a mass of buzzing urbanity, often absorbing the aftershocks of the violent…