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 ….”

Expression of an artist !

 

Art is an expression , its an artist’s thought which is put in a visual on a surface in two or three or more dimensions , as many as you can add including sound , smell feelings what ever the artist’s will to toss in . An artist’s expression is free and is for the people, specially common people who may see it by not a very trained eye, not for its artistic aspects but for the mare visual it is and may interpret it in any way s/he feels. 

I my believe and faith and practice expressions belong to people, common people, not the few elite, enlightened, brilliant few but for a larger audience, the majority of the society, not the minority, regardless of the fact that  the minority is the ruling, powerful affluent one. 

It was only recently that I casually installed one of my works at the local flea shop. My work which is priced slightly under 500USD is placed among the old thrown out junk, and discarded items hanging on one of the columns. 

Firstly i have put my work which is a digital print in a setting where its seen by the common, unexpected people, who have come to probably get some cheep bargain who would stumble upon this peace and will question . How much , why so expensive? Who is the artist ? What has been done ? 

The answers are all in a paper which is kept in the drawer and is given only on request – 

The second thing is to make people aware that digital prints are also art, its not just oil painting or sculpture . 

Thirdly to challenge the mind set that art works belongs to galleries only, it wont be respected else where, it will be an insult if you put it in any other setting besides a gallery or an exhibition space- 

My work has come out of the bubble, and its breaking the label placed on art which reads ” can be admired by an elite only”  and for this i have faced much criticism , i have been told that i am “demeaning my work” i have been told i am acting like  ” a mosquito who lives in a dirty pond ”   Well who has polluted these ponds ? Not the nature but us very humans who are now calling it dirty , and mosquitos dont live in dirty ponds , they leave their eggs there so their newly hatched babies are born to the harsh realities if the world before they can fly off to gardens and jungles to borrow a few drops of blood from other animals so as to breed and not to actually feed , Hey we have something to learn from the  mosquitos here who you just called dirty ! 

Well coming back to my work hanging there between the antiques and trash is my work, its for the common people, the people we think are verminous, the people who make the most of the population of the planet and the people who as consumers are keeping us few elites alive ! 

Expression of an artist !

The valley of poisonous mushrooms

I am boggled, I am drained , and i am tired , i am on the verge of disowning the society in which i had always been a misfit, a society to which i tried to give so much,  but my efforts kept going to a waste paper basket, or rather a garbage shredder from which even the the tiny bits of the good i did were not retrievable and than to make it worst i was taken advantage of by a number of pseudo human right activists and that number made the majority, a dominating majority so strong that nothing good bypassed their vicious circles , they filtered everything milked it, juiced it, and only but filled their pit less pockets.

Than came the world of art, I thought this was a world of pure expressions, where people with greater visions will be expressing their concerns, where artists will be dipping their canvases to open to the larger truth but i was soon introduced to the grim reality. The expressions of the majority of the main stream, leading local artists were only but busy cashing into the sensations of today’s international popular believes. Their works are void of any emotional connection with their soul, they are utterly a product, produced to a formula, not to raise an issue or voice a concern, but only to serve the hunger for the sensation the world has to attract the buyers and cash into the exaggeration of a very shallow vision.

I found it suffocating to realist how the majority of the local art dealers and gallerist were making and breaking artists, manipulating and controlling the local art scene. Any one who would appose these lobbies and the bigwigs of this art world would never get a show in any leading gallery of the city, you rub them the wrong way and you as an artist are doomed, of-course unless you are rich and wouldn’t care if the local galleries allow you to show with them or not and you take your work abroad and make a mark internationally.

but then I see, although very few but honest artists, I realize  there will be a time when people will see how shallow and superficial the works produced from this region are , how in the name of “contemporary” was used to manipulated the international market. A work of art is like a book it reveals its secrets in layers with time, it will spell out every single truth, and when that happen the bubble will burst and we will are see a spectacular blue sky and bright sunshine which will wither to death this valley of poisonous mushrooms, the destroying angels of today art world and all the fool’s funnels among the social activists.

The valley of poisonous mushrooms

Develop Zero Social Tolerance to Sexual Violence.

As a usual habit, even today I checked my social network first thing in the morning only to stumble upon a news link which sent a chill through my spine. A 9 year old girl child in Bahawalpur was abducted from right outside her house, beaten up, gang raped and left back in semi unconscious, critically injured state. At the time of filing the report Doctors are struggling to save her precious little life.

The police has filed an FIR and is looking for the culprits, but there is little hope that justice will be served even in this case, as our legal procedures are highly complicated, and a financial challenge, where corruption allows the culprits the convenience to get the medial reports and evidence altered an escape proudly from the grip of the law to free find yet another innocent child or person to victimize.

In any legal system to work properly an integral part of it is the proper implementations of the procedures so as to make it fool proof and convenient for the people. For this a proper people who have proper knowledge of the forensics, the dynamics of crime, the loopholes, the behavior of the society and the routs the culprits take to get rid of the track they leave behind the crime they commit.

Also the society will have to play its part of the role, taking such crimes seriously. Stop blaming the victims of sexual abuse and violence and take stand against the culprit. The trend of shamming the rape survivors labeling them as Impure had to be opposed seriously. Common thoughts and notions which suggest “ the girl has been spoilt” or “has become impure” or “it must be her fault” or “ it’s a shameful thing , keep it under the wraps and not speak of it “ only make the culprits more stronger and makes it easy for them to commit such horrendous crimes and yet move proudly in the society.
Also our mainstream (conventional ) media will have to be more sensitive while reporting and talking over such issues. We have seen a number of times, when cases of sexual violence appear on the news channels there are often suggestions that the women were of “bad character” or were “dressed improperly” or were “acting provocatively ”. It is sad when these multimillion news setups with educated journalists and staff on board fail understand that RAPE is a serious crime and it does not make it any less serious or acceptable if the victim / survivor is a female sex worker or was roaming even naked, nothing justifies such a violent crime.
Performance and visual art can play a strong role in changing the mind sets of the society, artists have been addressing these issues in their art works since a long time but sadly their thought and expressions don’t reach the masses.

Its about time we use every social / public forum to educate people. Write, Blog campaign on internet social networks against such crimes and suggest a Zero tolerance from the social and legal system, There is a need to promote, literature , art and theater so it can reach a larger audience and help change perceptions, and broaden people’s vision and help them realize their fault to bring a positive change and shaping a better society.

Develop Zero Social Tolerance to Sexual Violence.

“Rio – The movie” Comes to Karachi


I am not much of a movie fan so when I first got an invitation to go to the premiere of “Rio The Movie” I wasn’t too excited. “The red carpet, celebrates, Ooh it must be one of those glamor events I dread to go to ” were my first few thoughts. But then I thought “an animated movie can’t be that bad” and this one thought proved to be a life saver.

As I entered the Atrium Cinema a huge red carpet outside the box office accompanied by a pair of beautiful macaws were all there to give everyone a warm greet. I was very happy to see these amazing birds, with their huge beaks and colorful feathers, matching the characters on the posters of the movie. As I proceeded forward some cool celebrities came in my view and so the meet and greet session kicked off. I Met Sania Saeed after months, actually the last time was after her katha performance, she was there with her mother and her two little angels, also present there was Tapu who is a big fan of animated movies was also present at the event and could barely keep his excitement concealed. I also ran into Khalid Anam who was stressing the urgent need to put a curb on piracy, and how its eating away our talent and our media industry, and i couldn’t agree more. We also exchanged a few words about the commercialization of our main stream media and how TV channels don’t often think of the deeper social impacts of the programs they air but we both agreed that some quality programs are also on the spectrum, we departed with a promise to continue the discussion in greater depths some other day as the show was now about to start.

Punctuality was the first lessen people learned as the show started sharp at the scheduled time. The comfy chairs, pop corns to pop in and soda to wash them down, cell phones switched off, 3D glasses resting on my nose, and every thing was off my mind, I was now completely in another world, The world of a blue domesticated macaw, living in Minnesota, and around him the story spins.

I wouldn’t go into the details of the story line, but I tell you what the movie is truly so fascinating that you will completely be lost in the story, you will laugh with the characters, you will panic with them, you will jump off your seats in excitement, and you will certainly cry happy tears because its just the kind of movie the whole family will not only enjoy but it will also rub off a little on them leaving its impressions for quite a few days and i bet you would want to see it not just once but a number of times and yet you will enjoy it just like you enjoyed the first time you watched.

As the movie ended, I walked out of the cinema my mood was completely lifted, I found the two macaws on the red carpet, but now i looked at them as a pair of victims, bound in chains for some money, and that is one of the strong message the movie quite efficiently delivers. Who ever miss out on this movie will sure be missing a lot of fun. and i Must say since the Cinema are returning to us we must also give it a warm welcome and enjoy the experience more often. but for those of you who still prefer to watch the movie at home please buy original videos because piracy is theft and a crime.

“Rio – The movie” Comes to Karachi

Entertainment ruined by Ads

Today is Eid a day when local TV networks air programs specially produced to provide sheer entertainment to the public. I usually don’t watching much of TV but I was just watching this comedy serial on hum TV since Ramadan, it was to conclude today with special longer Eid episode. I started watching “faiz manzil kee Eid ” at around 8pm today but after every five to seven minuets of drama the viewers were feed with ten to twelve minutes of advertisements which would go in loops, being repeated twice, thrice or even more times during every single commercial break. Even during the drama the highly annoying interruptions of Pepsi “lemon ka Jhatka” time check between the dialogs and punch lines made me completely loose interest in the whole thing I ended up switching off my television set..

Advertisements being pushed down our throats make me puke.. And yes I am not ever drinking Pepsi Twist, I don’t want to increases their blood sale for the announce they cause every 30 minutes or so through most Tv/Radio broadcasts in the name of time checks.

Entertainment ruined by Ads