OPA Live! is an Instagram Live series that features Pittsburgh-based cultural producers in conversation with their peers in other locations nationally and internationally. For the final session of this season of OPA Live!, we welcome our host, artist and writer Anisha Baid and her guest, interdisciplinary artist Sobia Ahmad.
Reflecting on their overlapping as well as distinctive cultural experiences as South Asian women currently living in the western world, Anisha Baid and Sobia Ahmad will engage in a conversation about the intersections between the personal, political and spiritual dimensions of experience. This conversation will be anchored through a reflection and exchange of poetry, specifically works from two poets – the mystic saint poet Kabir and the revolutionary Marxist poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz. Through this poetry, they will explore the ground from which a nuanced engagement with identity politics, coloniality, and migration is built into Ahmad’s practice. This conversation will also tread into personal stories of growing up in ritual cultures, and different kinds of faith – from two sides of a colonial border (India and Pakistan), and the lessons and questions we draw from it in a time when technocratic narratives seek to erase these ancestrally rooted ways of being.
Anisha Baid is an artist and writer from Kolkata, India, currently based in Pittsburgh, USA. Through her practice and research, she is investigating the intersection of computer interfaces, corporate culture, and gendered labour. She works with found and archival material – often sourced from the internet to construct narratives that move between fiction and documentary. Her work has been shown internationally including at the Technical Collections, Dresden, Landskrona Foto Museum, Sweden and 1Shanthiroad gallery, Bangalore. Baid is currently pursuing an MFA degree at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh.
Sobia Ahmad is an interdisciplinary artist whose work explores how our deeply intimate struggles of belonging can inform larger conversations about national identity, notions of home, cultural memory, and gender. Exploring ancestral knowledge, she reimagines rituals and storytelling as acts of liberation.
Born and raised in Pakistan, Ahmad moved to the U.S. at the age of fourteen. She has exhibited internationally, including at the Herbert Johnson Museum of Art (Ithaca, New York), Craft Contemporary (Los Angeles), Queen Mary University (London), Museum of Craft and Design (San Francisco), and the Women Filmmakers Festival at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, D.C.).