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Makhafi (Hidden)

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Grantee Profile

Faiza Mishal Akhtar

Faiza Mishal Akhtar is a freelance Graphic designer, installation artist and an educator. Currently, she is serving as the acting head of Communication Design at the Karachi School of Art, Karachi. In her 6 year career she has conducted workshops on art installations, delivered talks as guest speaker and been invited as juror at several institutions. She has also served as juror for Toyota and WHO for young artists.


This research project is based on Urdu, a language which is a product of the subcontinent. Urdu has evolved with the time and accumulated  words from many languages. It is the national language of Pakistan, where many other regional languages are also spoken.

This project “Makhfi” which means ‘covert’ focuses on the diminishing importance and usage of Urdu. Most of the words of the language are being replaced or not used as other languages become increasingly used alongside Urdu. After the inception of Pakistan, Urdu was declared the national language but has constantly struggled with English which is also the other official language.   

This project is an effort to establish a new image for Urdu by using environmental typography thereby increasing the visibility and bringing about a positive perception of Urdu. Through this proposal, the researcher aims to instigate interactions between people and Urdu language, igniting interest in the language, countering the negative perception of Urdu as inferior to English and thus encouraging people to speak in it.


Environmental typography is one medium of graphic design through which we can ignite interest in Urdu by incorporating the different words within the environment. Language development is a natural process which involves the four key skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. By using Urdu to create powerful visual communication and utilizing scale and social space, the project hopes to create an impact and initiate interactions between the viewer and Urdu language.

The importance we give to things changes depending on our perception of it. Perception not only creates our experience of the world around us but also leads  to interactions with our environment. The proposal suggests installations designed to make the viewer engage with the meaning of the words in context of the installation itself while also revealing the meaning of the word. The project  therefore aims to create an interest in the meaning of Urdu words which are no longer in common use therefore discovering a new side of Urdu, by seeing the unseen.


Urdu – type based installation in a public space

Nashist (seat) – type based installation in a public space