Pakistan’s erasure of its own muddled history is the subject of Bani Abidi’s witty series of photographs, ‘The Ghost of Mohammad Bin Qasim’. In the nation’s attempt to create an official history, which focuses on Muslims in the subcontinent (rather than Pakistan’s geographical boundaries), the Arab general Bin Qasim (712 AD) was lauded for being the first Muslim to successfully lead a military campaign in India — even though he did little to consolidate his position.
In Abidi’s photographs, a man in Arab dress is shot at different locations in Karachi, including the mausoleum of the nation’s secular founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah. The man is clearly Photoshopped in, deliberately so: he represents the attempt to graft a false history on to Pakistan, linking it to the Wahhabism of Saudi Arabia.
One photograph from the work is available here, with the caption
The Boy Who Got Tired of Posing, 2006
A series of fictional photo and video narratives. At the center of each appears the symbol of Mohammad Bin Qasim, as a recurring mythological figure. Playing with the very idea of concocted history, each story lies somewhere between truth and fiction.
A Flash presentation via here (choose Works)
The Whitechapel exhibition URL.