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The Fabric Under My Skin

Saba Khan, Shaheen K. Ahmed and Tahia Farhin Haque.

A research-based performative project, The Fabric Under My Skin is a collaboration between Saba Khan (PK), Shaheen K. Ahmed (UK) and Tahia Farhin Haque (BD).

Interwoven both materially and historically, Birmingham, Dhaka, and Lahore are three geographical spaces that share a history of textiles. 

Cotton, fabric, dyes - water, canals, agriculture, factories - the chain of processes to make textiles has long been heavy with colonial politics and has been part of colonial littoral trade that fuses together histories of the Sub-continent with the UK. 

The ousting of the last Maharaja of Lahore by the British led to laying of the canal colonies in Punjab for growing cotton. Calico was the first material to be traded by British merchants out of Sindh, to the Gulf. Indigo farmers were forced and maimed to grow indigo and muslin fabric annihilated in Bengal. Textile industrial growth in Birmingham and Manchester used cotton and labour from India. 

The roots of fast fashion, textile waste and sweatshops are rooted far back, in colonial trade, forced farming, slavery and extraction of raw materials as well as people. 

The insatiable demand for fashion has been detrimental not only to the environment but also to the human body that is forced into labour. The Maharajah, exiled to the UK to curtail local leadership, was a beginning of exodus of people leaving for the diaspora in hope for brighter futures. 

In this project, the artists weave together a history exploring the loss of home, stunting of vernacular knowledge and the textile industry.

Find out more and watch the perfortamces here:

Image: The Fabric Under My Skin, Saba Khan

Image: The Fabric Under My Skin, Tahia Farhin Haque

Image: The Fabric Under My Skin, Shaheen Ahmed

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