Creative showcase: Fostering a sense of belonging through art
KARACHI: On its second anniversary, Sanat Gallery is hosting an experimental exhibition, titled ‘What Belongs to You’, which explores the dynamic relationship between the artist, audience, curator and viewers. The event has been curated by Aziz Sohail and it showcases the works of six artists: Madyha Leghari, Ammar Faiz, Naira Mushtaq, Sajid Khan, Farhat Ali and Zoya Siddiqui. None of the artists were present on the opening ceremony as they hail from various cities of Pakistan. The artists’ diverse works gives an insight into their thought process telling the viewers what really belongs to them and their relationship with it.
Speaking about the exhibition, Sohail remarked “We have tried to deal with the ideas of belonging, ownership and authority within the context of art-making in Pakistan, while predominantly focusing on the power of the viewer, the artist and the curator in this specific show.” Besides, he also talked in detail about how the Pakistani consumer market is driven by commercialisation. The show seeks to redefine the role of artists working with ideas of power and authority, he added. Leghari, while using the mediums of vinyl on wall, oil on canvas and photocopy, propelled viewers to explore the significance on word text and its meaning. In one of her works, she plays on the word ‘advertisement’ calling it ‘artvestment’, perhaps referring to the increasing commercialisation of art in today’s world. On the other hand, Faiz, using the medium of magazine collage on film poster mounted on cardboards, depicts his version of Bollywood movie posters found in middle-class public spaces.
“[We live in a world] where we see people forced to absorb billboards and print advertisement as elements responsible for beautifying the city’s landscape. I try to build my own layer over this redundant expression….and beautified it in my own way,” he said in his statement. Mushtaq, in trying to give new meaning to out-dated images, played with the medium on mounted paper on board, oil and crayon.
Khan’s untitled work deals with narrative and memory as against the depiction of art itself. Sticking to the idea of distortion, he did not overlook the memories that belong to us, but those we especially care about. “The central element in this work is the idea of distortion; overtime the memories we thought belonged to us, and those elements of the landscape we held dear, have now undergone a shift. Our lack of belonging to our own pasts is a traumatic act and through this work I aim to reassert myself over it,” he explains in his statement.
Siddiqui’s collection, titled ‘Personal Shrine’, speaks to the viewers on a personal level. The collection depicts views from different homes in Lahore’s walled city. Her need to engage with public space while also acknowledging belonging and possession brings forward the idea of ownership. “I have been focusing on re-framing views from within interiors of multiple homes of a chosen locality, whilst investigating the dynamics between artist, consumption of subject and the camera’s eye,” reads her statement. Ali’s three-dimensional visuals play a metaphorical role as they seek reality-based assertions to answer the call of illusions.