The National College of Arts’ Mahbub Jokhio has become one of the new visiting fellows at the Harvard South Asia Institute where he hopes to work on the visual history of Partition among other projects.
“I was born into a very literary family full of artists, poets, and writers. Art was in the blood,” Jokhio said in an interview published on the institute’s website March 20. “My uncle, an internationally recognized visual artist, basically channeled my interest into visual arts. Since then, I have been involved in the visual arts.”
Jokhio was born in Sindh’s Mehrabpur, Naushero Feroz in 1992. He went to Lahore in 2010 for a Masters at Beaconhouse National University and currently teaches at NCA in Lahore. He works with photography, video and other mediums such as concrete.
Karachi recently encountered his work for the 2017 Biennale. His installation, Jese Shahr-e-Madfoon Py Waqt Guzray! recreated a children’s graveyard by constructing graves out of mud, bricks and plastered with cement.
“The vibrant, gaudy colour scheme of the graves belies the sombre subject matter, epitomising Jokhio’s aesthetic discourse between images and their epistemology,” read a Karachi Biennale statement on his work. “The way in which the work’s bright and colourful final manifestation is unable to be separated from the basis of its subject matter, replicating the form of children’s final resting places, visually represents the inseparability of life and death in the human experience.”
Another of his works is the Graveyard project. “The whole idea was, in Pakistan especially, graveyards are not frequently visited places,” he said in the interview. “They’re very scary and abandoned places; nobody would go there. So that project was a suggestion that the graveyards could be a place where life could happen — you should go see it and pay homage to your loved ones.”
His work has been shown internationally, including the graveyard project. In it, Jokhio explores how they are places where both the living and the dead can co-exist. In this image above, for example, he “presents images of everyday mundane acts with different characters in graveyards,” as The Tetley put it for his first solo show in the UK.