Two photos side by side. on the left is an old photograph of a woman. She is dressed in traditional men’s safari clothing and holds a old book. On the right a modern colour photograph shows a younger woman in undershirt and trousers holding the same book
© Zinnia Naqvi, diptych.
Left: Nani in Safari Hat, 1948
Silver gelatin print, 5.08 × 7.62 cm (2 × 3 inches)
Right: Self-portrait as Nani, 2017
Inkjet print, variable dimensions

Zinnia Naqvi is an interdisciplinary artist based in Montréal and Toronto. Her work examines issues of colonialism, cultural translation, language and gender through the use of photography, video, writing and archival material. Recent works include archival and re-staged images, experimental documentary films, video installations, graphic design and elaborate still lifes. Her works often invite the viewer to question her process and working methods.

An intergenerational through-line can be found across Naqvi’s recent project Dear Nani. The work is a diptych consisting of two photographs: an archival photograph titled Nani in Safari Hat (1948) and a recent photograph titled Self-portrait as Nani (2017). In the older print, Nani, Naqvi’s deceased maternal grandmother Rhubab Tapal, performs the role of an Indian man in British clothing. In the contemporary image, Naqvi, who is similarly dressed, adopts her Nani’s pose. Both women carry the same colonial Childrens Encyclopedia under their arms. The diptych, and Naqvi’s larger project, suggest a wish for a conversation that cannot take place. They reflect a respectful attempt to reconcile with one’s origins and illustrate similar power structures experienced across generations.