Memorial to Lost Words10 Flickbooks in wooden vitrine box

'I love you', 2016
Publisher: Experimenter Books

A project about the discretion of romantic love, about it being silent, shy and hidden. The silence of the flick book and the inaudible mouthing of 'I love you', animates the reading of this book, adding a tactility to the feeling expressed by the three words. These flick books were first produced by the artist during an artist residency in Lahore in 2003 and were given to friends, to be passed onto others whom they loved.

I Love You is produced in a limited edition of 100 copies.

Memorial to Lost WordsWater Color on Paper, 8.5 x 11 inches

And they died laughing, 2016

A series of paintings in which people are laughing hysterically, the work is a pun on the term ‘to die laughing’. Thinking about people in Pakistan who have been assassinated or have disappeared overnight, targeted for their political beliefs, the artist affords them agency at their moment of departure.

Memorial to Lost WordsSingle Channel Video

The most amount of people standing still, 2016

In a world where digital images increasingly stand in for reality and ‘photoshopped’ manipulation is common fare, ‘The most amount of people standing still’ is a memory of a protest that never happened. Partly a cynical comment about the inability of Pakistani civil society to organize itself and partly the construction of an ideal gesture of protest, the video plays with the possibilities of faking history.

Memorial to Lost WordsSound Installation

Memorial to Lost Words, 2016

In memory of more than a million Indian soldiers who served in the Great war, but are remembered - if ever - only for their valour and loyalty to the crown. 70,000 Indian men died in the war and didn't even make it as a footnote in the Imperial War Museum's World War One exhibit. A poem by Amarjit Chandan based on censored letters written by the soliders and an old Punjabi folksong sung by women at the time. This month, words of loss, longing and displacement get heard in the Scottish parliament house which was built in the 70's for a devolved Parliament, a devolution which was not achieved till 1997. At which point the government decided to build a new parliament. This debating chamber was never used.

Commissioned by the Edinburgh Arts Festival 2016

321Digital Drawings on Paper, 11 x 17 inches

Flailing Barriers, 2015

An extension of the artists continuing interest in security architecture, the security barriers in these drawings start flailing of their own volition.

321Water Color on Paper, 8.5 x 11 inches

The man who clapped for 97 hours, 2015

This suite of 10 drawings is an homage to average men who mastered profoundly nonsensical and deeply poignant skills in order to make their mark in the chronicles of history. They are semi fictional people based on real characters picked from the popular Guinness Book of World Records. Of particular interest to the artist is the metaphoric and performative potential of their chosen gestures when seen against the backdrop of contemporary society.

An Unforeseen SituationVideo Stills - Single Channel Video

An Unforeseen Situation, 2015

'An Unforeseen Situation' refers to a series of orchestrated mass events and spectacular individual feats hosted by the Punjab Ministry of Sports in 2014 during which multiple world records were reportedly broken by Pakistan. Picking up from the popular rumours, newspaper clippings and video footage surrounding the events, the artist spins her own version of the events as they unfolded.

The Speech WriterVideo Stills - 6 HD projections

'Funland' Karachi Series II, 2014

The videos in Bani Abidi’s installation ‘Funland’ (Karachi Series II) meander between being memorials to a cosmopolitan city that fights to retain its secular history to melancholic imaginings of a hypothetical, deserted future. A library in Karachi puts itself under a harsh regiment of censorship. Threatened by suspicious visitors asking questions about the vast reserve of books on comparative religion and history, the board decides to hide seventy percent of its collection; a cinema hall from the 50’s in the city center is burnt down by an outraged mob protesting a video posted on the internet; an amusement park built in the 1970’s fears closure as construction on the country’s tallest skyscraper begins next to it. These moments in scantily inhabited public spaces play alongside a video of a man on a sea shore, sitting on a set of meticulously laid out chairs, watching the sea.


The Speech Writer Photographs, Text and Collected Objects

A Table Wide Country, 2013

A Table Wide Country is a set of photographs and objects taken in the home of a fictitious character. In continuation of her work ‘The Speech Writer’, Abidi looks at make-believe worlds and human eccentricities that often serve as psychological safeguards against life and memory.


Video Installation - Dimensions Variable

Death at a 30 Degree Angle, 2012

‘Death at a 30 Degree Angle’ is a fictional vignette shot in the atelier of Ram Sutar, an Indian sculptor who is renowned for monumental statues of politicians and national heroes. A small time politician commissions a statue of himself and cant decide how he wants to be represented. He experiments with different costumes and postures while consulting his cronies who stand around him, ever ready to prop up his sense of self. The film is a dialog between the aspirations of a fictive upstart, a seasoned sculptor's ideas about portraiture and the engulfing presence of the entire pantheon of Indian political figures that surround them in the vast museum like atelier.

Produced by the Sharjah Art Foundation


The Speech Writer
Photographs, Text and found frames

Proposal for a man in the sea, 2012

'Proposal for a man in the sea' is a photographic installation documenting the archives of Ram Sutar, an octogenarian Indian sculptor who has been making political statuary for the past 60 years. The artist came across the studio of the artist during the reserach for her video 'Death at a 30 degree angle'.


The Speech Writer 10 Flipbooks in a box case , 28 x 24 x 3 cms

The Speech Writer, 2011
Publisher: Raking Leaves

The Speech Writer is a fictional video documentary presented in the form of ten flip books. The contents follow a day in the life of a retired political speech writer. Retired from a lifetime of public service work, his connection with the outside world takes the form of a daily broadcast from the comfort of his home. We cannot hear him speak but witness instead a moment of ultimate freedom in the life of a man who formulated the rhetoric, visions, dreams and declarations of others. Passersby, now accustomed to the perplexing array of loudspeakers wired to the outside of his house, stop to listen for a few moments each day.


Untitled - Inkjet Prints, 111.76 x 76.2 cms

Section Yellow, 2010

The video and photographic works in 'Section Yellow' are about people who are going elsewhere. An anatomy of preparation, anxiety and anticipation is built up through multiple frames, narratives and gestures.



Bani Abidi - Karachi SeriesDuratrans Lightboxes, 20 x 30 inches, 50.8 x 76.2 cms

Karachi' Series -1 , 2009

A sideways glance at a growing manifestation of ethnic, religious and cultural homogeneity in an erstwhile cosmopolitan space. The photographs in 'Karachi - Series 1' hypothesize a silent moment when the original denizens of the city step out of their homes to lay claim to a space that is also theirs. Shot at dusk during the month of Ramadan, when most Muslims of the city are breaking their fasts with their evening meal, the artist contemplates the vast emptiness of the city streets and imagines them to be inhabited differently.



Inkjet Prints, 11 x 17 inches, 28 x 44 cms

Intercommunication Devices , 2008

Intercommunication Devices on 13th Street, Defence Housing Authority, Karachi


Bani Abidi, Security Barrier
Inkjet Prints, 11 x 17 inches, 28 x 44 cms

Security Barriers A-L , 2008

A design survey of security barriers on the streets of Karachi, Pakistan


Bani Abidi, Address
Diasec C Print, 30 x 40 inches, 76 x 101 cms
Inkjet Prints, 11 x 17 inches, 28 x 44 cms

The Address , 2007

In the tradition of trompe loiel paintings used as backdrops in Portrait studios, the artist commissioned a background painting resembling the set used for televised presidential speeches. The image of this vacant set was then displayed on TV sets in various public spaces in Lahore.
The photographs, while attempting to examine a significant image, leave the viewers (both within and outside the photographs) caught in a before, after or perpetual moment by leaving the seat empty. The work hopes to raise questions about the relationship between civil society and the ever changing face of political power in Pakistan.


Bani Abidi, RESERVED
Video, Double Channel, 9:00 mins


The city has come to halt. A state dignitary is about to arrive. Traffic is blocked to make way for the unhampered movement of four luxury vehicles. School children with crumpled paper flags in hand wait patiently to wave at the passing motorcade. An anxious reception committee of officious bureaucrats paces up and down a red carpet.This video was commissioned by the Singapore National Arts Council for the Singapore Biennale 2006.

Video Stills & Production Shots
Video Extract

Bani Abidi, the Ghost of Mohammad Bin Qasim
Photo and Video Works in 3 Segments

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.

To be uploaded

Bani Abidi, Shan Pipe Band
Video, Double Channel, 7:30 sec

Shan Pipe Band Learns the Star Spangled Banner, 2004

In November of 2003, the artist commissioned a brass pipe band in Lahore to learn how to play the American National Anthem, a piece that was not a part of their existing repertoire. Over an afternoon's sitting of listening to a recording of the music that had been provided them, and after much fumbling and practicing they were able to perform a version of it. The video is a recording of this process as well as a glimpse of their interaction and physical surroundings.
This piece is a metaphor for all forms of clumsy and forced cultural and political acquiescence that various individuals and governments have had to display towards the US in the past 3 years.The Scottish Pipe Band is a colonial legacy that still exists in Pakistan. Now, unattached to the military these band musicians play Indian music tunes at weddings.

Video Stills
Video Extract

Bani Abidi, So he Starts Singing
Video, Single Channel, 3:30 sec he starts singing, 2000

A single narrative constructed from 26 stories. Manisha Sharma, an Indian film buff was asked by the artist to narrate the plots of 26 different Indian films (circa 1975-2001). What ensued was an hour of footage, from which the artist extracted cycles and patterns of the stereotypical Bollywood story and created an absurd, unending narrative that is presented in a constant loop.

Video Stills

Bani Abidi, News
Video, Single Channel, 4:24 sec

The News, 2001

A 2 channel video installation, 'The News' is a mock news program being broadcast on either side of the Indo/ Pak border. Presented on 2 monitor screens, a Pakistani and an Indian news presenter relate separate versions of the same news event. The script is an adaptation from a common joke about an Indian and a Pakistani. Adapted to sound like a news event, the joke is a banal slapstick display of superiority. The language used in the video is the Sanskritised Hindi of official Indian jargon and the Persianised Urdu of the Pakistani state, a comment on the state's exclusivist policies of altering language in its effort to construct a separate identity.

Video Stills

Bani Abidi, Anthems
Video, Single Channel, 2:25 sec

Anthems, 2000

Addressing the role of music in the creation of patriotic sentiment, the video 'Anthems' shows a split screen image of two young women (played by the artist) dancing to popular Indian and Pakistani songs. Their activity is private, and seemingly they are unaware of each other. But infact they are not, insofar as they are sharing space on the TV monitor. Each of them keeps on turning up the volume on their stereos in an effort to outdo the other. The video ends in a cacophony of sound, where neither of the music tracks can be heard clearly.

>>Video Stills

Bani Abidi, Mangoes
Video, Single Channel, 3:24 sec

Mangoes, 1999

Two expatriate Pakistani and Indian women sit and eat mangoes together and reminisce about their childhood. An otherwise touching encounter turns sour when they start comparing the range of mangoes grown in either country, a comment on the heightened sense of nostalgia and nationalism that exists in the Indian and Pakistani Diaspora. Both the women are played by the artist, stressing the idea of a shared history.

Video Stills