Liverpool Biennial with In-Situ presents

Madiha Aijaz
8 – 30 June

Liverpool Biennial with In-Situ present works by Madiha Aijaz (b. 1981, Karachi, Pakistan, d. 2019). Displayed throughout the library, these three films and photographs connect with the cultural heritage in Pendle, reflecting on ideas of migration, modernity and the shifting relationships we experience to language and tradition depending on our position in the world.

Madiha Aijaz’s new work These Silences Are All the Words explores the public libraries of Karachi, Pakistan, against the backdrop of the city’s changing landscape. Focusing on librarians who have been working for years in traditional institutions such as Bedil Library, Aijaz portrays an aging intelligentsia.

The conversations with both librarians and the library’s users reflect on the ongoing shift of language from Urdu to English. In this movement, there is a tension between the poetic and literary history of Urdu and the ambition and individualism associated with English.

Many of Aijaz’s works similarly offer a perspective on a country sharply divided along linguistic lines. Her work contextualises the complexity of the postcolonial state and its ambitions surrounding the English language, not only as the legacy of the Raj, but also as a tool for authority and social mobility. Using photography, film and txt, Aijaz combines different media to present a city’s history from a literary point of view.

As part of this exhibition, local artist Zara Saghir is leading a series of weekly sessions with Mums 2 Mums to explore lost or disappearing languages and traditions. Mums 2 Mums are a community group based in Nelson, who jointly selected the work with In-Situ on a visit to Liverpool Biennial last summer.

The work in this exhibition has been jointly selected by In-Situ and Mums 2 Mums on a group visit to Liverpool Biennial last summer.

Based at The Garage in Brierfield, the group have been exploring a vast range of languages in Nelson; discussing diaspora and the nostalgia that language holds for them. These discussions have been visualised by making objects that relate to their cultural heritage, as well as producing a short film and recording traditional lullabies, which all relate to the loss of language and the ‘traditional’ way of speaking.

Courtesy Rob Battersby


Madiha Aijaz

June 8 – 30
Open Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday 9 – 5pm, Weds 1 – 7pm, Thursday 9 – 1pm

Nelson Library, Market Square, Nelson, BB9 7PU


Nelson Library is situated in the centre of Nelson.

Nearest train: Nelson Train Station (4 mins)
Nearest bus: M4 mainline from Burnley bus station, M3 from Burnley Queensgate depot

There is a free car park at the rear of Nelson library, and a bicycle park at the front entrance.There is level access to the library as well as an internal lift for easy access to all levels.

Madiha Aijaz, These Silences are all the Words (film still) 2017-18

This exhibition is part of the Liverpool Biennial touring programme, which brings works by international artists presented at the 2018 festival of contemporary art to spaces across the North of England.

Supported with National Lottery funding through Art Council England’s Strategic Touring fund

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