My practice is centered around imagining silence as an artistic activity. Such scripted silence allows an artist to become mobile and contradictory, thus enabling simultaneous forms of participation and eschewal in the historical project of art. It attempts to extend the communicative possibility of a pregnant pause and thus hopes to think in terms of a lack of thought. Assuming that absolute zero are only theoretically imaginable, the only material possibility of creating silence lies in its antithetical property. I imagine noise not as auditory perception but as the pre-eminent din of language from which there seems to be no escape. Through various strategies, I attempt to negate word and describe a world without the interference of language. The territory of this imaginative world corresponds to the sites where language manifests itself as a primary concern in the real world. Hence, at varying points of inflection, I touch upon coordinates such as intimacy, institution, archive, printed matter, and translatability. The primary strategy through which I approach the negation of language is that of refrain in a poetic sense of the word: refrain, refrain, refrain. For any assault on language, its use has to be proliferated and multiplied. I imagine that language may ultimately be exhausted, used up until syntax shrivels and peels away from its adherence to intelligibility and continuity. Redundancy, verbosity, absurdity, fluctuation, mutability, literalism and other strategies create the kind of kinetic plentitude required for the excess to separate and fall away. Silence is thus created by equating contrasting properties in terms of each other: It is possible to talk oneself into silence. Given that silence as artistic activity is born of a dissatisfaction with how expression and action are imagined historically, the form of this negation is neither consistent nor serves as a signature. I frequently use lens based media because they seem to occupy coordinates in both the territories of text and image, a complex that seems to be a fitting vehicle for dealing with the problems of language. I imagine each work as a unit in a larger practice, and thus do not conceive of specific exhaustible projects.


Madyha J. Leghari (b. 1991) is a visual artist and writer from Lahore, Pakistan. She graduated from the National College of Arts (2013) and is currently an MFA candidate at Massachusetts College of Art and Design (2018) on a Fulbright Scholarship. Her practice often revolves around the 'silences created by failures of language'. She has participated in a number of group shows in Pakistan and the US. Her first solo presentation, 'Notes Towards Silence' (2016) was held at Rohtas Gallery, Lahore. She has also been writing on art for a number of publications and has been teaching at the National College of Arts, Lahore and Beaconhouse National University, Lahore.