Performance Art in Pakistan


In Pakistan, performance art has begun to gain traction only over the past decade. This is not to say that performance art was not attempted before here. In the 1970s, when performance art came to prominence in the United States and Europe, some Pakistani artists did engage with it in some form or the other.

One of the earliest performance works was Salima Hashmi’s Hunda Hubalna (how to boil an egg) from 1970. It originally appeared as a skit in the popular comedy programme Such Gup on state-run Pakistan Television (PTV). In it, the artist, speaking in the English-accented Urdu of a high society housewife, sets out to explain how to boil an egg and then does everything but. In recent years, Hashmi has revisited the spoof as a performance in art spaces all over the world as a testimony to her subversive actions in politically troubled times.

Artist and Performance Art Groups



Artists and Groups not researched yet

  • Aras Abbas
  • Bayer Ahmadi
  • Aisha Ahmed
  • Sabeen Ahsan
  • Rasheed Areen
  • Ajiya Asif
  • Sabahat Aziz
  • Fatima Butt
  • Shanza Elahi
  • Umme Farwa
  • Kanwal Tariq
  • Khurram Gillani
  • Salman Hasan
  • House Limited – artist led platform
  • Natasha Jozi
  • Hamna Khalid
  • Nerda Khara
  • Khoosat
  • Hidayat Marwat
  • Sarah Mumtaz
  • Rabbya Nasseer
  • Nayyab Naveed
  • Rabeea Qamar
  • Nofal Omer
  • Aleena Qudeer / Aleena Qadeer
  • Nida Ramzan
  • SM Raza
  • Waleed Sajid
  • Abeera Saleem
  • Haider Shah
  • Wahab Shah
  • Khalid Sherwani
  • Shahzia SIkander
  • Maha Sohail
  • RIsham Syed
  • Karwal Tariq
  • Hurmat Ul Ain
  • Miriam Waheed
  • Sobia Zaidi

Literature and resources

The current performance art narrative being structured in Pakistan is daring. Structured
outside the conventional academic or institutional framework of art making, the work produced is actively informing the discovery of the body. It is a state of deeper inquiry where artists are borrowing directly from their personal lives, tearing deep into experiences; raw, unedited, vulnerable and exposed.
A group of young women artists rises, marching forward with a warrior-like sensibility, and claiming their place as culture makers ensuing a relevant question forward, why are women artists engaging with the performative arts in Pakistan? Like many countries, in Pakistan art is heavily influenced by the demands of the commodifying market. One observes decades of male centric, market-driven art making as a singular creative model in place. One wonders, is that the absolute approach to art making? These young women artists bring forth a parallel narrative of art making that challenges prior standards of self-expression and creative solace. It is a known fact that a live performative art work cannot be bought or sold immediately, and yet it is slightly astounding to witness artists invest their time and resources in a medium that identifies its evident monetary curbs. Why do these artists continue to make performative works? The answer lies in the possibility that it is not in the monetary revenue generated by the artwork where the artists are seeking their imperative gratification, rather, within their absorbing yet wounded and profound sociocultural and anthropological investigation. (Natasha Jozi – I am, A Spectacle: Reclaiming Female Consciousness through Performance Art in Pakistan)

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