*1985 in Gujrat, lives in Lahore
Nida Mehboob is a photographer and filmmaker based in Lahore, Pakistan. She qualified as a pharmacist but left the field to pursue photography. Her topics of interest includes themes of social injustice ranging from religious persecution to gender discrimination in Pakistan. Her documentary work has earned her places at several international workshops and fellowships including the Magnum Foundation’s Social Justice Program and Berlinale Talents 2020. Her short films have screened at international film festivals, including Locarno Open Doors 2018.
“What Matters” was the question andtatement of 2022 presentation of works by the JUNGE AKADEMIE, the interdisciplinary and international artist-in-residence programme of the Akademie der Künste. In an exhibition and a multifaceted programme including screenings, concerts and readings, 29 fellows from all of the Akademie’s art sections presented sound and video installations, photographs, sculptures, paintings and performances they developed during their studio residencies in the Hansaviertel in Berlin and at Villa Serpentara in Olevano, Italy.
“What Matters” is not to be understood as the title of a thematic exhibition but rather indicates the diversity of questions, perspectives and realities that are interlaced in an artist residency, while emphasising their urgency. The exhibition focused on the artists’ individual approaches that encompass a broad spectrum of themes: from questions about the transformation of societies and their expression in relation to the urban space and landscape, to interrelations between the individual and social systems such as state, religion and the economy, to reflections on body images and conceptions of history, personal archives and the intertwining of nature, technology and culture.
What matters is artistic testimony, poetic resistance and the imagining of sustainable futures in the face of global tipping points – whether climatic or political in nature. Two years into the pandemic and the associated restrictions, “What Matters” was the most comprehensive presentation of works to date by the JUNGE AKADEMIE.
To quote one of the fellows: “What matters? Make them see…”
Photographs, poster, archive material
Shadow Lives is a visual record of the marginalisation experienced by the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan, a people who are violently discriminated against. Mehboob works with actors to re-enact daily scenes of repression in my photographs.
The prolonged and vicious campaign against the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan is an example of the state’s mistreatment of its citizens who do not practice the mainstream Sunni faith. Though discrimination against Ahmadis has existed in Pakistan since the country gained its independence, it became systemic and institutionalised in 1974 when parliament moved to change the constitution and declare Ahmadis non-Muslim, making Pakistan the only Muslim country to do so. Further legislative changes in 1984 criminalised the religious practices of Ahmadis.
The impact of discrimination of Ahmadis is violent and bloody, and daily life for any Ahmadi is far from easy. Students are scared of telling their fellow classmates about their religion, and in professional circles colleagues avoid discussing faith. If you are an Ahmadi in Pakistan, you hide your religious identity or face social bigotry from all social gatherings and any experiences with public offices.