top of page


12 x 14 inch inkjet print

Edition 1/10 available

$1,000 framed


Artist Statement:


ma bōli is a photo series of drawn tattoos in Panjabi. I am fluent in both Panjabi and English. Panjabi is the regional language of Panjab (both in India and Pakistan) and also my mother tongue. I started learning English in the U.K. from the time of my entry into formal schooling. After immigrating to Canada in 1976 at age 3, I was often bullied for my English accent. I quickly suppressed my accent in order to assimilate to the Canadian English language. As a result of partition, my original mother tongue (Urdu) is no longer spoken in my kin family. India was colonized by the British from the 1600s till 1947. Language is also a struggle for freedom, unfortunately I speak the language of my colonizer better than my ma boli (ma = mother, boli = language/tongue). Deep-rooted complexes were found in folks from my part of the world and the key architects of colonization knew this, using language to divide people into class systems. The result of this has seen many folks in my part of the world including myself revere our colonizer’s language more than our own.  Jaan is a Panjabi/Urdu/Hindi/Farsi term of endearment for; life as well as, dear, darling and loved one.




Pamila Matharu is a settler of Panjabi, Indian descent who was born in Birmingham, England and is currently based in Tkarón:to/Toronto, Treaty 13 territory. Approaching contemporary art from the position of critical pedagogy and using an interdisciplinary and intersectional feminist lens, her work culminates in a broad range of forms including: installation art, social practice, and experimental media art. Recent exhibitions have been held at Or Gallery (Vancouver); ONE Archives at the USC Libraries (Los Angeles); ArtworxTO, Art TO, MOCA Toronto, A Space Gallery (Toronto); Art Gallery of Burlington; Durham Art Gallery and Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Queen's University, Kingston). 

Pamila Matharu, ma bōli: jaan (otherwise i speak the language of the colonizer)

    bottom of page