Opening: Zinnia Naqvi’S "Heart Shaped Box"

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Opening: Zinnia Naqvi’S "Heart Shaped Box"
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Trinity Square Video says
10 January–11 March 2017
Opening Friday, 13 March 2017, 5–7 PM

"Heart-shaped Box" (2016) features home video footage of the artist, Zinnia Naqvi, taken in 1995, at the age of 3, just four years after her family had immigrated to Canada. As they settled into their daily lives in their new home, grunge music was at the height of its popularity. Naqvi’s sisters were particularly taken by bands such as Nirvana, Live and Hole and in this home movie, Naqvi’s sisters teach their youngest sister to sing the lyrics to some of the era’s biggest hits.

Grunge music emerged in the American-northwest, in the post-punk era of the mid-1980s. It was primarily popularized by lower-middle class white Americans, who felt that they were on the margins of society. The lyrics in grunge music were typically angst-filled, and often addressed themes such as social alienation, apathy, confinement and a desire for freedom [1].

Despite the anti-establishment sentiment of the artists who were making the music, grunge began to see mainstream recognition in the ’90s. Many of the genre’s artists were uncomfortable with their success and the resulting attention it brought [2]. The musicians struggled with the idea that in order to continue to produce music, they needed to succeed commercially—this produced a tension between the felt sense of alienation in the audience and the broad cultural appeal of the artists’ messages. As the popularity of grunge increased, the fanbase expanded to the very people that artists such as Kurt Cobain were criticizing in their lyrics.

Naqvi’s "Heart-shaped Box" provides a different take on this narrative. Here, the music resonates with newly immigrated Pakistani teenage girls. Naqvi’s sisters were on the outside of a new society aiming to fit in. This video is an example American popular culture influencing a generation of people for whom their product was unintended yet with whom it resonated honestly.

[1] “Grunge.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, accessed 12 December 2016,
[2] Michael Azerrad, Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana (Doubleday, 1994), 254.

"Heart-shaped Box" runs until 11 March 2017 in Trinity Square's vitrine space.
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By: Trinity Square Video