In the 1990s, artist Umber Majeed’s uncle started a travel agency called Trans Pakistan with the hope that he could welcome international visitors and offer packages such as trekking expeditions to Pakistan’s striking mountainous regions. However, the business venture was shortlived, folding in 2005 as the US’s “Global War on Terror” decimated the travel industry in the region. In this Video Viewing Room, Majeed presents selections from her ongoing project Trans-Pakistan Zindabad (Long Live Trans-Pakistan), in which she combines this familial history with her research on a huge planned community on the outskirts of Lahore called Bahria Town.
Using a variety of media from drawing and sculpture to video, VR, and web environments, Majeed weaves a speculative proposition for how Trans Pakistan might operate today. As she narrates unsanctioned tours using surreptitiously captured footage of these heavily surveilled sites, Majeed suggests a motif of circulation–of people, capital, and online material that she has called “South Asian digital kitsch.” In this futurist imaginary, Majeed toggles between a previous generation and a dystopian present in which global, neoliberal vectors loom over local struggles.