My performance titled ” I am ….”

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Art, as we all know, is an expression and when this expression is in the form of a performance, the term used for this form of art is Art Performance.  In this form of art, an artist puts her/himself on the line to make a statement. In my case, the journey started on Friday the 13thof March 2015, when I first slipped into a skirt and did the first part of my performance.

I was wearing a shimmering skirt with a ladies shirt, hidden under the overalls. My first stop was Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (IVSAA). I go into the washroom, shed my overalls, and out comes a guy wearing clothes which even the bold women of the region would think twice before wearing in public.  I paraded all over IVSAA, and then did the same at T2F, KOEL café, Koel Gallery, Sanat Gallery.  And Fika Café.

All these spaces were taken up by surprise, all were related to fines arts, in each of these place, I would have required a proper permission to exhibit or do an art performance or even do photography.

The performance is Titled “ I am …. “ and as most of my works it was designed and conceptualized to trigger questions. Is he a guy, or a girl, do clothes define gender? gender orientation? how it feels when men are objectified? why am I doing it? What am I gaining from it? Is it a shoot, a show, or my preference of dress up ?  and a  lot many more questions.

Besides these questions, there was a very obvious but yet overlooked layer of vandalism in the performance. I was invading a space, doing a performance, leaving its managing team and people having their lunch baffled as to what is going on and leaving without an explanation. The layer of vandalism to point to the vandalism a woman faces every day in our society, it’s different but its there and goes very much unnoticed.

For me it was a breakthrough, I came over my fear of public performance, I came out and expressed and I could see that the questions I wanted to raise were in the minds of the people but they were too shy or may be taken back to bring them up so they remained baffled.

It was then that I decided to extend this performance further. It was just me dressing up differently. Within days I had bought a few stretch ladies pants, and some shirts which won’t be strikingly feminine but tailored for ladies, It was very tricky to select what I could wear because I didn’t want to trigger any rage or anger, but just questions.  I slipped into these new clothes and walked the streets of Karachi.

A few heads were turned, I overheard comments, “ Look at his legs”, “Is he a guy ?” , “ Must be gay”. I had to be aware of my security, I had to be vigilant not to run into trouble, I had to carry a “ Normal set of overalls” A normal baggy pant and a tee shirt to cover up when I am in the “ Difficult parts of the city.

Another challenge was my being accepted, yes some of my friends started avoiding me, my own relatives started to avoid being seen in malls like this with me, a lot of artists started to laugh at me and the irony of the whole process was that I had to be tight-lipped about the fact that it’s a performance, because obviously explaining would have killed the whole purpose of it.

To step up the game another notch, as I was at the time the official photographer for Sanat Gallery, I somehow convinced the director of the gallery, Abid merchant to allow me to dress up for the show,  He was not aware of the fact that A: It’s a performance, B: part of the performance is about vandalizing too.

Starting off in March 2015 each time I was covering a show a Sanat, I would dress in a bright skirt, or a shining dress, totally of a woman who may have walked right off the fashion ramp, It would show skin, it would be pink, yellow shimmery blue. and I would wear it over my body,  own it along with the actual identity of my masculine gender, straight orientation, with an intention to vandalize every single show I was professionally covering in a Gallery which was paying for it.

The audience were all artists, I was laughed at, made fun of, was questioned was rumored to be gay, or belonging to the alternative gender and there were all sorts of gossips. My dresses were talked about and people waited for the nest show to see what next will I pull out of my sleeves. Sadly not many could understand or figure out that it was an expression and it was a work of art.

The performances continued till October 2016, which is when I realized I should stop because by now people had stopped questioning much and started to accept me in these dresses. And the whole purpose to trigger thoughts was fading away. It was time to end it and I decided to keep it unannounced.

I suddenly changed my ways of dressing, started wearing normal men’s clothes and that triggered yet another wave of questions? Why are you wearing men’s clothes? what happened to the man we knew? You look odd, thought that was your style. And a lot many comments and questions that followed.

I had decided to reveal the fact that it was a performance after almost one and a half years of ending the performance that I was in. two years because 1: I don’t like explaining my art, 2: some personal matters were keeping me mentally occupied and I couldn’t dissect and explain what I did 3: I wanted people to forget before I strike again and jog their memories.

I am very thankful To Sanat Gallery for allowing me to wear all those dresses while covering their shows, to Khalil Chishti for encouraging me on the first performance, to ZAK for his encouragement, and to everyone who helped me and supported me and allowed me to express freely. I apologize that none of my supports had any clue of the complete picture and scope of the performance.

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My performance titled ” I am ….”

Life

Its strange how we live to take and we take with us what we gave . 

Life

Ugly Chirpy

Chirpy was ugly, her feathers all plucked out, her beak a little crooked , but her eyes were like diamonds, deep and sparking, but no one ever looked in them, kids always threw stones at her and her own flock of birds hated her , unless of course she was needed. It was only then that she was praised and loved only till the task was done, because Chirpy was brave, wise and learned. 

Chirpy used to live in her lonely nest  on a tree which has even less leaves than the feathers on Chirpy’s  body. 

One. Fine evening Chirpy decided to spent the night at another tree, where her friend CooCoo had stationed to for a few days during his migratory trip to the north. The weather was still a little cold these days, the night was crisp and clear , stars glittered in the skies . Chirpy was happy her best friend CooCoo was in town. She left her tree and went to the lush thick tree where CooCoo was staying , She brought him food and made him more at his makeshift nest.  They sat and ate together on the branch , but then suddenly the weather changed . 

The breeze stopped the air became warm and unfriendly, suddenly from a distance they hear a thunder ! It scared them ! Then there was thunder which was so loud that it shook Chirpy’s soul. CooCoo found a safe spot for him self and Chirpy was left out on the branch . It started to rain , the water started to seep into the skin slicing through Chirpy’s heart, and then there came the hailstorm. 

CooCoo was warm, sitting in cozy small pipe. Not bothered about what Chirpy was going through, he was sleeping , singling and chirpy was dripping wet . 

The tiny pallets of ice started to his Chirpy’s soul, he was quiet , he saw there was some rain starting to reaching where CooCoo was. Chirpy quickly went and saved CooCoo from getting wet. 

Chirpy was there the whole night, her wings spread to protect CooCoo from getting wet. She was cold and shivering, the storm had eased down, the rain too was getting tired and was planing to take a break but not Chirpy 

The hailstorm and cold and stolen the much of the warmth from Chirpy’s soul but hope was still alive. As rain stopped and the sun came out Chirpy trembling came down to CooCoo only to find him calmly asleep, She woke him up, CooCoo looked pissed as if he was mad at Chirpy for not letting him get a little wet in the rain. Chirpy now cold and needed a hug to warm herself a little but all Chirpy could get was a cold halfhearted hug, and an impress which said , why did you not let me be a little wet last night . 

Chirpy knew it was time to go home, but he thought maybe she is wrong and thought to stay with her friend but then CooCoo flexed his wings and said , i have to go north, your warm and try weather is not my thing , he warned Chirpy , Dont follow me, you dont have feathers to keep you warm in the north, and seriously i dont want to look like an idiot flying with a featherless bird like you , Shuu go away , i will drop by for some food on my way back , but right now thats all i can take of you . 

CooCoo flew off and Chirpy went back to his lonely nest , which was by now cold and wet too.

Ugly Chirpy

Void

You stand in pitch dark and have to keep walking and keep falling through one hole after another but continue , with broken bones, bruised skin , you pray this fall be your last but you survive it all and the pain becomes louder so do you cries and screams but its pitch dark, and so silent that your scream is absorbed into the void and doesn’t even fall back to your ears. 

 

Void

Words

And you think the words i said were sublime ? They came from the heart and were to pierce the soul, they were to revoke storms and thunders . But they were absorbed and no magic emerged out of them…. And I wait…. 
Will this mountain soon crack and a rivers will flow from its chest ? Or will it be a volcano which will burn down all that is beautiful to ashes !
Words

Khayal

انا کے کھوکھلے وعدے, جو شرافت کی گھٹی میں زہر بن کر کوٹ دیے گئے کہ اپنے لوگوں سے اتنی نفرت, اس زمین, جہاں اگے اور پنپے, اسکے پودوں کو نوچ کر ہم نےاگانا چاہا اک نئ زمیں میں, اک نئے وطن وطن میں. پودےبھی مرجھا گئے ہیں اور اب مالی بھی ہارچکے ہیں. کہ یہ پودے جو اس زمین پر شجر بنتے اور پھل دیتے, وہمر چکے ہیں. اور یہ زمین بنجر پڑی ہے, نہ اس پہ کچھ اگ رہا ہے نہ مالی کا پیٹ بھر رہا ہے. مالیبھی مر چکا ہے, مٹی میں ہی اب مل چکا ہے.

 

Khayal