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Dear Nani

Item Details
Zinnia Naqvi
Anchorless Press
Media Type
Zinnia Naqvi

A special edition signed and numbered copy of the first printing of Dear Nani.

Dear Nani (2017 – ongoing) is a photobook addressing issues of gender performance and colonial mimicry through the family archive. The photographs are of the artist’s maternal grandmother, Rhubab Tapal. Nani is performing the act of cross-dressing by wearing several different outfits that belong to her husband. The photographs were taken on her honeymoon after the couple was newly married in Quetta and Karachi Pakistan, in 1948. The artist’s grandfather or Nana, Gulam Abbas Tapal, is the photographer and presumed director of the photo session.

Through this form of gender play Nani is performing not only the role of a man, but also, an Indian man performing the role of a British man, as indicated by the colonial time period and markers within the photographs. As the artist tries to understand these images she puts herself into the unanswered questions. She tries on the role of Nani as well as some of the other contributors to the images, such as the unknown children in the background. Throughout the book, a fictional dialogue between Nani and her grand-daughter attempts to unpack some of the questions surrounding these images, while also asking the viewer to revisit their own reading.

With an essay by the artist, a glossary of Urdu terms found in the book, and a hand silkscreened book wrap featuring a poem in response to the work by Arushi Vats, this thoughtfully designed photobook offers layers of intricacies to unpack.

  1. Dear Nani