Do it yourself, the extraordinary way
KARACHI: To commemorate its new purpose-built premises, Canvas Gallery has organised an exhibition titled ‘Extra I Ordinary (37 Do-It-Yourself Art Ideas for Free)’.
Curated by artist Rashid Rana, the show has artworks of 37 contemporary artists on display and all of them are intriguing examples of how readymade art can move away from the banal and head towards the realm of the ‘meaningful’.
The difficulty with reinvention, and with the condition that the object shouldn’t be modified or amended, is that it makes artists go back to the drawing board, as it were, and at the same time think on their feet. This is the reason that the exhibits on display look pretty startling.
What can an artist do with a single chair or a copy of the famous fear-instilling book Maut Ka Manzar? Isn’t it interesting that the artist is not allowed to change its composition? So what Mahbub Jokhio does with the chair is that he pushes it to the wall. It may be a symbol of power, but facing the wall hints at a cul-de-sac of sorts, which is what power more often than not achieves.
Farida Batool makes the book ‘Maut Ka Manzar’ not just look like a harbinger of doom but also feels like it. This means the mere visual is enough to suggest what the object entails. She may have titled the exhibit ‘Death is Beautiful’ but it’s not what she intends to say. Death always has a lethal ring to it.
‘Noose’ by Aamir Habib belongs to the similar category. An extension cord is something that one can find in every household. It ostensibly helps you multi-task with your electronic appliances. But without the electricity it loses value. Not here though. The artist adds value to it by turning it into a noose. It shifts from a collective aid to a personal help of the negative kind. That’s how artists visualize objects, without drawing metaphysical inferences from them. They’re there for each one of us to observe. The common man only looks. The artist sees.
According to the statement that accompanies Salima Hashmi’s ‘Vanilla Flavour’, as mortality grows even more finite, one loves the promise of life and health packaged seductively. The key word in the statement is ‘packaged’. Not life or health.
The show will continue till Dec 10.