Suleman Faisal has approached Homing In as a research residency, carrying out a series of process-based interventions in numerous kitchens belonging to diverse households in Lahore. Through hosting participants as guests in their own homes, Namak Kahan Hai? (‘Where’s the salt?’) explores the hierarchies and relationships of control present in the kitchen while providing a cross-cultural overview of Pakistani domestic cookery. As a result the kitchen is revealed as an intimate and gendered space that acts as a socioeconomic and cultural barometer.
Hosting is intended as an act of generosity, however like all relationships, power balances are present. Namak Kahan Hai? complicates and disseminates these as Faisal hosts his guests in their own homes, cooking meals requested by them yet using his own recipes, as best he can with only their ingredients and equipment to hand.
Faisal’s performative investigation is influenced by artwork Rhymes of the Kitchen by Naila Mehmood, which documents an impoverished Pakistani woman cooking in a communal kitchen, and Faisal’s time spent as artist-in-residence with Vasl Artists’ Association. Greeted with surprise when cooking for himself and fellow residents, he realised how strongly the kitchen is considered a female ‘workspace’ in Pakistan, and thus that his culinary activities could constitute a feminist act. In Namak Kahan Hai?, we see Faisal’s male presence trigger moments of pleasant disbelief or slight unease, and gain an intimate insight into everyday lives and homes across contemporary Pakistani society.
Click here to download the critical text of Namak Kahan Hai? (in a pdf).
Namak Kahan Hai? by Suleman Faisal (2021) has been commissioned by Platform Asia for the Sudden Beams – Homing In programme. Supported by Arts Council England.
Find out more about the Sudden Beams programme here.
About the artist
Suleman Faisal’s work explores latent aggression held within humans and objects. He identifies hidden violence within socially accepted activities, such as cooking, hosting or manufacturing, using this as a way to open conversations into seeing things from another perspective, power balances and tools as artistic objects. Faisal is influenced not only by his experiences working in Pakistani toy-making and plastic industries, but also driven by his interest in the diverse socioeconomic conditions in his home city, Lahore.
Suleman Faisal works between sculpture, video and performance. Faisal graduated in 2017 with distinction in Fine Arts from NCA, the leading arts university in Pakistan, where he then taught for three years. He has taken part in artist residencies at Vasl Artist’s Association, Karachi (2020) and Pioneer Cement Factory, curated by the Canvas Gallery, Karachi (2017). Faisal has showcased his work in group exhibitions including ‘For the Wicked and the Valiant,’ O Art Space Lahore (2021), ‘A Site for the Sight,’ Lahore Biennale (2020), ‘Microcosm II,’ AAN Gandhara Art Space Karachi (2018), ‘Transition in Time,’ Zahoor ul Ikhlaq gallery NCA Lahore (2018), ‘Four Rooms,’ Lahore Biennale at PILAC (2018), and ‘Beneath the surface,’ Canvas Gallery (2017). Faisal has been commissioned to produce public realm works and monumental projects in Pakistan and he was awarded the Khuram Kasim art Foundation award to produce his forthcoming solo exhibition at Canvas Gallery, in Spring 2021.