Jul 15 2011

Book Blog: Mazaar, Bazaar

by Sahar Baharloo

How does one visually typify an entire culture without being reductionistic, offensive or just plain dumb? Imagine someone trying to explain France by depicting baguettes, berets and handle- bar mustaches. That is something that could have happened with Mazaar Bazaar: Design and Visual Culture in Pakistan if designer and editor Saima Zaidi hadn’t handled the project so well. She gathered over thirty articles discussing different aspects of visual culture in Pakistan from ancient to modern times. She explores a wide scope of media and objects including ancient coins, movie posters, political cartoons and personal portraits.

While I find the subject matter compelling, what I admire about Zaidi’s work the most is her design. Her design is elegant, sophisticated and smart. Most importantly, it’s quiet. It’s way too common for designers to allow their voice to drown out their subject matter.

The Buraq, a perfect way to open this book.

A henna advertisment.

Airbrushed portraits.

Advertisments from Pakistan International Airlines.


I like how political cartoons look the same no matter where they’re from.

Check out the Art Nouveau influence in this poster.

Ancient coins.

A man and his beautiful truck.

More examples of truck art.

Hand-painted movie posters.

A man painting a billboard.

A man hand-lettering a newspaper.

If you’d like to learn more about this subject, check out the talk Zaidi did for TED Lahore.

Book Blog is a weekly showcase of book design from ArtAsiaPacific’s areas of coverage and is written by AAP’s designer Sahar Baharloo. All images were taken by our photo editor Alis Atwell.

David Zwirner Artspace Opera Gallery 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art ARNDT RossiRossi Silverlens SAM