THAAP, SHAHKAAR Higher Education Research Hub Sumaya Durrani Doctoral Research UNSW, Sydney

THAAP, in collaboration with Shahkaar Higher Education Research Hub – a Doctoral Research Project by Sumaya Durrani, is pleased to announce the Shahkaar 2020, Tahira Arshad Award Resilience Against Censorship. This annual award recognizes a candidate of merit who has shown resilience against distinctive forms of Censorship and psychosocial erasure associated with physical impairment, visible, invisible, or experiential disabilities in navigating the social world. Located across the contexts mentioned above, the candidate must demonstrate individual autonomy, seek authenticity and self-actualization, produce aesthetic value to engender personal and social transformation in shaping material culture. The award is open to individuals/ practitioners of all ages working in the Visual and Performing Arts, Theatre, Fashion, Film, New Media, Object Design, and Architecture.

The award criteria draw on the model of resilience and self-determination unravelled across seven decades by Pakistan’s pioneering fashion designer, Tahira Arshad.

In the grip of dementia, Tahira Arshad rescripts selfhood at the intersections of socially produced contexts of disability, trauma, and other vectors of identity formation that extend from her infancy to old age.   Aggravated by disenfranchised grief and situational loss, Tahira Arshad retains the residual traces of an autonomous self. In her silent outcry, she affirms a reparation of the site of her business concern Ideal Fashions.  Established as an Haute Courte house in 1955 at 41 The Mall and 12 Dyal Singh Mansion, Lahore, with brand outlets in Karachi, Murree, and Honk Kong, Tahira Arshad seeks the reappropriation of the site to a museum. The medicalization of her condition imposes prohibitions that deprive her of restitutive action, sealing her legacy and denying her access. Dispossessed, yet the faint hedonic tones of an imaginal universe enable her agential capacities.

Positioned within Tahira Arshad’s model of resilience, the Shahkaar Tahira Arshad Award

Resilience Against Censorship recognizes individuals who have contested dominant narratives of ability that naturalize body and mind efficiency and stigmatize differences, resulting in disadvantage. It seeks to legitimize individuals with different capacities that do not fit into ableist narratives challenging the notion of disability as the lack of possibility. It validates individuals who have defined a role in society afforded by their different capacities, showing resilience against negative sanctions imposed on bodies perceived as aberrant, anomalous, diseased, aged, disabled, and susceptible to illness, chronic pain, anxiety, and despair.

The selection committee consists of 5 eminent figures from relevant professions. The due date for submitting the nominations is 7th January 2021. Individuals should send their CV, three selected works, and artist’s statement of between 500 -700 words at THAAP office (43 G, Gulberg III, Lahore, Pakistan. Tel. 042 35880822) or at

The candidate should mention their name and the title of the award in the subject of the email. The award will be consummated in 2021 and includes a cash prize and a shield of honor.

Sumaya Durrani

Sumaya Durrani is a visual and performance artist – jewelry-maker, academic, and theorist, undertaking her Doctorate in Art at the University of New South Wales Sydney 2012 to date. She earned a Masters and Bachelor of Fine Art Cum Laude from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor USA and apprenticed in Fine Jewelry and Diamond Mounting at the Sir John Cass School of Art London Metropolitan University UK. Sumaya has been associated with the public and private sectors in higher education and has served in academic and higher executive positions in Pakistan, Turkey and Afghanistan. In 1995, she was appointed the curator for Pakistan at the Asian Biennale Dhaka. In recent years, she received the nomination for the Abraj Capital Prize, Art Dubai 2010 and the Jameel Prize, 2015, Victoria and Albert Museum. Sumaya received the UIPA Award Australia in 2012. Sumaya has exhibited widely with 40 solo exhibitions and several group-shows at public and private institutions in Australia, Japan, USA, Canada, Norway, France, UK, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Her works are in the permanent National Collection of Pakistan at the National Gallery of Art, Islamabad, and at the Trade Development Authority Government of Pakistan.

Sumaya is initiated in the Chishti and Qalandari Sufi Orders.