Laiba, Age 6, Afghanistan
What makes a house a home? Security, shelter, family, and care. In many cultures, the home is the locus of domestic activity and the domain of the feminine identity. What happens to that identity when the framework of home is shattered?
A common thread between immigrants from all backgrounds and circumstances is their longing for family members from whom they have been separated, sometimes never to be reunited again. In Fragments of Home Left Behind, Abid depicts five girls whose “homes” are now (or were, at the time of their documentation) in refugee camps in Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, and Pakistan.
The young women depicted in Fragments of Home Left Behind represent multiple lifetimes of violence, instability, peril, and statelessness. Each is a refugee who has found shelter in a camp, far from home and its comforts. Breaking with Mughal painting tradition, Abid paints her subjects straight-on. In doing so, she subverts the gaze typical in portrayals of courtly life, which cast women as passive decorative objects, reflecting their role in the royal society. In the artist’s hand, each girl engages directly with the viewer. The blend of trauma and resolve in their expressions refutes their vulnerability and testifies to their determination to survive.