On the 18th of May 2022, the Communication and Design department at Habib University showcased CND students’ final year projects on campus with immense vibrancy and charisma. The event was divided into three segments; film screenings, project displays and installations that were sprawled in separate locations across campus – each showcasing students’ work. The event was attended by the student body, faculty, alumni and jurors assessing the projects. The event was a culmination of the class of 2022’s undergraduate journey at Habib University. A total of 47 projects were displayed at the showcase with topics like design-thinking, social awareness, women-empowerment, mental health, and Covid-19 among others at the heart of the students’ research.
The film screenings featured short films, web series, animation and short film documentaries. To name a few, Mahnoor Nadeem’s short film, Qurbat Ki Leherein, talked about language as a powerful tool in constructing realities and how it constructs and transforms the reality of a close interpersonal relationship. Elsa Sajjad’s Mohabbat consisted of episodes corresponding to five toxic tropes perpetuated in Hollywood.
Umama Leghari’s animation film, Oonhai, was a short, dream-like animated film portraying the experience of flooding and natural disaster in rural Sindh through the perspective of a young boy.
Zain Salim’s short film documentary When The Music Stopped explored the impact of COVID-19 on indie artists within Pakistan’s music industry.
In the project displays, many of the students’ work was centered around women, such as, Kam-Yaabi by Mariyam Aslam Bawany and Fatima Nooraen, a board game and book project that vocational training centres can use to develop, improve and instill entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills in women studying in those vocational training centers.
Fatima Naushad Akhai’s mobile app, HerLife, helps women find jobs based on their needs and requirements while also building a community of women in Karachi. Marium Javed’s photobook, Azaad, represents women’s experiences of oppression and how they transcended them.
Aiman Nouman’s toolkit, Qubool Hai! Magar Kya? – Assessing women’s agency on their nikah namas in Pakistan is a toolkit with a number of components, ranging from a dummy nikah nama, an illustrated zine, a board game, and a manual that aims to act as a design solution for the problem of depriving women of the agency and accessibility to their nikah namas. The toolkit will act as a means to increase awareness. Hanaa Gatta’s project is a child motorcycle carrier exhibits a personalized child carrier for mothers who travel with toddlers on a motorcycle.
Ariba Rafi’s project installation, Feminism for the Middle-Aged Housewife, was an installation and short film on the stories of middle-aged Pakistani women and the way ageism affects their lives beyond 35 years of age.
A few focused on the complex topic of mental health and stigma. For example, Zinnia Amin’s riveting sculpture project, Log Kia Kahein Gay, was a visual and audio exhibit that shed light on the construction of identity and how relationships with people and objects are shaped through this symbolic process. Taha Ali Murtaza’s PC project, Recreating Therapy, was a game that told the story of someone with anxiety going to therapy for the first time.
Some were centered on how material objects and their connection to human life, such as, Maham Khan’s Mini Furniture Display which is an allegorical chest-of-drawers that invites the viewer to explore material objects that represent various layers of a person’s life – from the functional to the dark and unresolved. Eesha Iftikhar Qazi’s stirring project, In Lieu of Forgetting (Memorial Museum) was an installation that evoked the tangibility of loss of life in Covid through material objects.
A number of projects also showcased heritage. For instance, Sara Ahmad and Munira Kazi’s visual display, Karachi On Wheels, that solves an intellectual problem – the lack of knowledge of Karachi’s culture, heritage and history. Bhawna Kamal Lohana’s artist’s book, Imagined City, that showcased displacement of Hindu sites, spaces and movement in Hyderabad. Maria Khan’s visual exhibit, Journey to God – Experiences of Sufism, was an outlook on sufism in Pakistan, its history, design and contemporary importance of it in our times. Will contain architecture, a design catalogue, and an experience-led installation according to geographical divisions of the Mazaars touched upon in Pakistan.
With these innovative and creative projects, the Class of 2022 showed dynamism in their research interests and explored subjects that resonated with the times. Dr. Muhammad Haris, Assistant Dean for the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, commented, “CND students have had a university education about ideas. These are students who are skillful when it comes to the craft of filmmaking. They are also immersed in the history of ideas and can think comparatively.”
Gul Zaib Shakeel, Former General Manager at Teeli (A Dawn Media Company), who was also one of the jurors assessing the film screenings, said, “What I enjoyed about the film screenings was that there were quintessentially Pakistani stories – you see that in their ideation and in their efforts of visually translating their ideas.”
She further said, “Given the kind of stories that they have come up with and how refreshing they are from the narrative that we are seeing in the cinema and on television, we have a totally new brand of storytellers waiting for us – we are very excited about that.”