Showcasing Karachi, one encounter at a time
KARACHI: A group of 16 students from Habib University’s communication and design department explored the city to highlight its untold stories from a student’s perspective.
Divided into pairs, the eight groups showcased their five-week long project at The Second Floor on Friday in a two-day exhibition titled ‘Encounters With The City’.
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“The work displayed is the outcome of a five-week class in documentary making and photography to explore the city, find a subject and bring out the hidden stories in them,” explained instructor Naila Mahmood.
She described the project as the encounter of second-year students with the small fragments of the city; producing, reproducing and modifying Karachi into a set of still images, infused with insights into urban life.
“Walking along a street in the city, we encounter countless sights, sounds, smells, materials, people and movements,” she said.
Encountering places in everyday life, people engage the place with all their senses – interacting with others, with the materials and with the atmosphere. “By moving these encounters with urban places into the focus of attention, we are coming to terms with the materiality, body, perception and representations of the place,” Mahmood explained.
During her presentation at the exhibition, she also pointed out that the project was not technical; instead it involved more learning and photography.
Meanwhile, assistant professor of communication studies and design, Saima Zaidi, was of the view that the main idea behind the project was to engage students with the city and to give them exposure to photography and making documentaries about their surroundings. “They also had to make a documentary, conduct interviews and submit a write up,” she added.
Saadia Pathan, a second-year student, said that she and her group mate, Meher Malik, selected paan as their subject. She explained that their title, ‘Paan and the city’, was exceptionally apt because all over the city there are people chewing and spitting out paan.
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“We have seen, and even spoken to the many people sitting in public buses and spitting paan from the windows,” she said, pointing at one of her photographs being exhibited which showed walls painted with paan stains. Pathan added that from her interviews, they learnt that people do not care if they are spitting on someone or making their city ugly.
Another student, Talha Kehar, said that his and his group mate’s excursions around Karachi were a traumatic experience. “We have visited six spots in the city, which have seen tragic incidents in the past,” Kehar added, showing their write up, which reads ‘Kai Baar Yun Bhi Hua’ [sometimes this also happens].
He said they visited six locations, including Safoora Goth, Abbas Town, Nishat Cinema and Baldia Town, to get a feel of their subject.
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Zoha Jabbar, whose work focused on key-makers sitting at every corner of the market, said that she observed how they provide keys to the locks our society has put in their minds and houses, which is why she titled her work ‘The Keepers of the Keys’.
“Our society is full of locks, barriers and closed doors and these key-makers are unknowingly providing keys and trying to open up these doors and locks,” she explained, adding that she spoke to many people who are working at small roadside stalls.