"Sketch of a fading memory is a site specific work, fashioned from twigs gathered by the artist. The obvious visual reference is Madonna and child, but as the title suggests the piece is autobiographical. The work is portrait of the artist and her mother. The latter’s body exhausted by a long illness and hospitalization is locked in embrace with her child and caregiver. Reclaiming a sacrosanct image of divine motherhood(created countless times by male artists in the employ of the church and reworking it with a feminine, personal narrative, it becomes a subversive visual metaphor created by a woman- male child replaced by a female, and the roles of mother and child reversed. Chishti works usually with soft materials at a human scale. Her twigs installations are a departure from the solid forms as she moves to an innovative use of a found materials- the detritus of natural life. Fragile and fragmented, the material mimic poignantly the ephemeral nature of memory. In conversation with the artist she spoke of the act of gathering and building this work as reminiscent of the labors of the birds building their nests, essentially a natural maternal activity. In fact some of the twigs came from abandon nests she found while clambering up trees to break off branches. Akin to birds; she painstakingly arranges the twigs but into her own hauntingly realistic forms, which are usually destroyed after the end of the exhibition. Crows gather at the feet of the two figures replacing the cherubs- silent sentries and scavengers waiting to dismantle the delicate arrangement.... They are a motif the artist has used in the past, a references to when this work was first conceived in Karachi, where both the sound and the sight of these avian pests is part of the cityscape. While they feed off rubbish heaps and carrion, crows are also creatures that symbolize the ability to survive even in the most challenging conditions."
- Nada Raza, Tate Modern in London
Courtesy of GREEN CARDEMOM GALLERY