© 2019 by Sobia Ahmad

wherever you are is called Here

Photos by Frank McCauley

 

wherever you are is called here (Anti-flags 1 through 12)

2019

Screen print and weaving on rice bags

Twelve anti-flags (14 x 25 in. each)

“...wherever you are is called Here

and you must treat it as a powerful stranger.” 

 

—from David Wagoner’s poem Lost

 

This project explore the ambiguous relationship between Here and home through the lens of memory and place. Alluding to locations on maps, momentary states of mind, and fraught socio-political realities, this work translates Here as an elusive space, one that is influenced by ever-shifting factors and often marked by unease. Interlacing personal imagery with political symbolism, I create anti-flags from rice bags. While the material and weaving techniques pay homage to my ancestral history of rice farming and rituals, the form and content symbolically subvert the function of hyper-nationalism.

 

Woven into the rice bags are maps and images of places encountered and remembered, real and imagined: from the streets of my hometown to satellite images of my grandfather’s rice fields, from state lines and zip codes in the U.S. to the border of India and Pakistan, from the rooftop of my childhood home in Gujranwala to the inherited memory of my grandmother’s courtyard in Amritsar. Interwoven and layered, these maps, places, and borders become faded and pixelated—alluding to rhythmic uncertainties of geography in relation to home. The accompanying audio is myself constructing the anti-flags with my grandmother.