Dear Nani by Zinnia Naqvi

Dear Nani (2017 – ongoing) is a photobook addressing issues of gender performance and colonial mimicry through the family archive. The photographs are of the artist’s maternal grandmother, Rhubab Tapal. Nani is performing the act of cross-dressing by wearing several different outfits that belong to her husband. The photographs were taken on her honeymoon after the couple was newly married in Quetta and Karachi Pakistan, in 1948. The artist’s grandfather or Nana, Gulam Abbas Tapal, is the photographer and presumed director of the photo session. 

Through this form of gender play Nani is performing not only the role of a man, but also, an Indian man performing the role of a British man, as indicated by the colonial time period and markers within the photographs. As the artist tries to understand these images she puts herself into the unanswered questions. She tries on the role of Nani as well as some of the other contributors to the images, such as the unknown children in the background. Throughout the book, a fictional dialogue between Nani and her grand-daughter attempts to unpack some of the questions surrounding these images, while also asking the viewer to revisit their own reading. 

With an essay by the artist, a glossary of Urdu terms found in the book, and a hand silkscreened book wrap featuring a poem in response to the work by Arushi Vats (English edition only), this thoughtfully designed photobook offers layers of intricacies to unpack. This first edition is available in French or English, and limited to 75 or 100 copies, signed and numbered.

Price: $50
Publication Date: February 19, 2022
Publisher: Anchorless Press
Designed by: Adam Simms
Format: smyth-sewn hardcover, linen, foil stamped, including a paper book band silkscreened with gold ink
ISBN: 978-1-927730-15-7 (French edition), 978-1-927730-14-0 (English Edition)
Size: 7 in x 11 in
Edition: French (75 signed and numbered), English (100 signed and numbered)
92 pages

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Dear Nani by Zinnia Naqvi


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A special collector’s edition of 10 is available, which includes a limited edition print from the book, and a personalized inscription (upon request).

Click here for more details and to order.



Robyn York, Publisher, Anchorless Press / 519-718-8469 (TINY)



Zinnia Naqvi (she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Tiohtià:ke/Montréal and Tkaronto/Toronto. Her work examines issues of colonialism, cultural translation, language, and gender through the use of photography, video, the written word, and archival material. Recent projects have included archival and re-staged images, experimental documentary films, video installations, graphic design, and elaborate still-lives. Her artworks often invite the viewer to question her position and working methods.

Naqvi’s work has been shown across Canada and internationally. She is a recipient of the 2019 New Generation Photography Award organized by the Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada and was awarded an honourable mention at the 2017 Karachi Biennale in Pakistan. Naqvi is member of EMILIA-AMALIA Working Group, an intergenerational feminist collective. She received a BFA in Photography Studies from X University and an MFA in Studio Arts from Concordia University. Recent solo exhibitions were presented at Dazibao and Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain in Montréal.

Anchorless Press is an artist-led small press publisher, working with artists exploring publishing as an artistic form. We celebrate books as standalone art objects and feel the strength of a published artwork lies in the decisions made throughout the creation and production process. Through elements of design and layout, image sequencing, narrative, text, and poetic intentions of an artist, the complexities of the book format can exist as a work of art.

We focus on creating collectable and affordable artist books, achieved through small printing runs, a commitment to aesthetic quality, and the inclusion of unique elements in the final edition. We publish innovative works by emerging artists, and as a female-led publisher, have begun to shrink our focus to representing more women artists creating photobooks as part of their artistic practice.

Through our growing catalogue of visual books and photobooks, we are invested in the conceptual potential of combining word and image. We believe a successful visual artist book allows for unique interpretations of the content, where the understood meaning of text and image intersect to support or contradict, and create a new poetic reading or understanding.

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

We acknowledge the support of Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.