The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (2014)
Mixed Media

Drawing together commissioned works and existing archival material from The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP) collection to revisit not only the grand political narrative of Partition but also the often marginalised gender perspectives of the partition of India and the subsequent birth of Pakistan. The material displayed presented CAP’s collection and also served as the backdrop for a number of programmed activities that generated additional Partition related content. These activities ranged from live oral history recordings to the archiving of personal documents generated via an open call for material. Reflecting the day-to-day working methods of CAP, the activities could be viewed as a form of living history, a means of revisiting Partition and its political and personal significance today.

The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP) is a non-profit organisation operating in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. In a time of historical censorship in Pakistan, it is dedicated to preserving Pakistan’s culture and history through archiving and educational outreach.

Presented as part of Alchemy 2014, Southbank Centre Supported by the British Council

Curators: Onkar Kular & Sanam Maher

Exhibition Design: Inigo Minns & Onkar Kular
Exhibition Furniture Design: Faudet/Harrison
Exhibition Graphics: Marine Duroselle & Simon Kinneir
Exhibition Photography: Manuela Barczewski & Simon Kinneir

Partition Banner
Referencing the rich graphic language of Pakistani truck art, the banner was manufactured in Karachi and provided an illustrative overview of the key facts, figures and people relating to the partition of India.

Oral History Space
Based on a collection of photographic images sourced from CAP’s archives, a montaged diorama depicts the two-way movement of people by plane, foot, train, truck, horse and cart. Painted by Faiz Rahi, a billboard painter based in Karachi, the diorama acts as a theatrical backdrop for an oral history recording, a montage of nearly 100 interviews within CAP’s Oral History Archive, live oral history recordings, talks and panel discussions around the topic of Partition.


Archive structure
The archive structure consisted of found and commissioned content to be viewed and activated. The structure allowed for the archiving of personal material from a UK diaspora and was designed to partition the space within the Royal Festival Hall. At scheduled times, volunteers were be on hand to scan and upload personal Partition-related imagery onto The Citizens Archive of Pakistan social media page and ultimately to be saved within the CAP archive.