Pain is one of the most basic human experiences that connects all humankind, but paradoxically, it is a solitary experience. We can give pain but cannot share it. We have tried to define it but even with the evolution of language and medical science we have still not been able to find a definition of this enigma. It is a basic human instinct to avoid pain; we even avoid looking at something that is only visually painful. This is why looking at acid attack survivors is not easy: this is why people avoid them and pretend that they don’t exist so that they don’t need to see their painful scars. Only if we start looking at them will we be able to acknowledge them, and let them become visible again. It isn’t enough to just talk about pain and the suffering of the individual in pain; accepting them and their pain is also important. The purpose of my current work is to bring attention to these ‘forgotten’ women. They have been silenced and need a voice of their own. Only when we acknowledge their presence and begin to ‘see’ them will they get the place in society that they deserve.
Ayesha Durrani is a leading international, contemporary miniature painter. Her work raises issues of gender and female identity in her cultural context, and has been displayed in over forty international exhibitions and art fairs. Besides eminent private collections, her work is on permanent display in leading museums and galleries including Fakuka Asian art museum Japan. She lives and works in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and is Assistant Professor at the National College of Arts.