Afrah Shafiq

Sultana’s Reality, 2017
Interactive multi-media installation, duration: 2 min 16 secs

Sultana’s Reality is an immersive interactive multimedia story that explores the relationship between women and the colonial education movement in British India using archival imagery, women’s writing and history.
Drawing its title from Sultana’s Dream, the 1905 science-fiction short story of feminist utopia, by Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossein, Sultana’s Reality explores the inner lives of the first generation of women to be educated in the Subcontinent.
The story is told through re-imagining traditional visual imaginations of the female form. It tries to explore the multiplicity of women’s history and also image making – the ways in which it is told and remembered. Sultana’s Reality is perhaps an exercise in questioning history. Not the history of the image, but a history that is constructed with the image. Women gazing out of windows are perhaps not romantic pictures connoting sensuality, luxury and the feminine form in all its glory. They may rather be images of women who are bored, who are imprisoned (sometimes within their own minds), who are uninspired. Pairing the visual and textual histories reveal a plethora of hidden revolutionary thoughts that churned behind lack luster eyes. Can the image be re-imagined, re-interpreted, re-mixed, re-contextualized?

Text and video stills courtesy the artist