Art materializes what the thinkers and visionaries theorize. It consolidates emotions, thoughts, and experiences to encapsulate moments archiving past, present and future. The process of art-making and presentation puts the artist through all of this to come up with a seemingly simple and individualistic representation of the collective experience of a society through a certain era. With Pakistan in a state of flux, struggling to shape its identity and carve a social and political presence, Pakistani artists are doing every bit to not only portray the trials of this transition but navigate a way through it. EST and UTC+5 is an example of such undertaking where a group of artists have collectively explored the notion of sharing. The project zero in on social interaction beyond the domain of politics and celebrates the fruits of diverse geography.
EST AND UTC +5 opened at FOMMA Trust Gallery on 13th January, 2018 to mark the culmination of a collaborative project that brought together 10 pairs of artists from Karachi and Philadelphia. Curated by Fiza Khatri and Terrill Warrenburg, the exhibit is displayed in both cities simultaneously and showcases 10 projects centered around time, space and surroundings of the artist to communicate the perception of local experience. However, the similarities, contrasts and novel attributes found within the premise of local leads more towards the exploration of its communal aspects that spread way beyond its geographical boundaries. Subjects, media and methodology explored within the project to regenerate the experience of regional identities bring together artworks that stretch the scope of art-making and its presentation within a gallery space. The wide array of mediums allow deeper exploration of the subject matter and reinforce the purpose behind this project through the multi-sensory nature these artworks lend to the gallery space.
Benches 2.0 by Veera Rustomji and Alyssa Kreilick explores the role of peripheral elements in urban landscapes that foster interaction between people and public spaces.
Observing outdoor benches in their respective environments, the two artists studied interaction between people and public spaces, circulation and access to spaces, using the topography to understand the dynamics of urban centers and psychology of comfort in the modern world. The metaphor allows insight into the dynamics of public spaces particularly in urban setting, enabling artists to study the nature and significance of gatherings that these mundane objects hold.
The Neighbors by Saad Khurshid and Cayla Lockwood also studies a similar phenomenon through digital collage of experimentally integrating individual elements from their surroundings. The video installation featuring photographs of surrounding environment and objects that the artists have playfully juxtaposed comments on the parallels found in not only their immediate surroundings but the landscape of artists’ daily lives as well.
The altar made with a series of flags designed by Aziza Ahmed and Paige Fetchen is all about identifying and demarcating spaces that hold meaning due to personal associations. The colors intensify the hypnotic dynamics narrated in the series adding more meaning to the act of claiming a space. These flags appear to study Identity as an imaginary entity developed through a set of interactive and intangible aspects, entities and experiences. Yasser Vayani and Alex Schechter’s Continued Forward Movement offers another interpretation of a similar subject matter. The series of collages and reliefs is like a mixed media documentary that aims to narrate the experiences of the pair through unconventional materials and processes.
Fiza Khatri and Ethan Patrick’s A Transfer of Energy is an experiment about art being a communication tool conducted using a methodology outlined decades ago. It explores the notion of art-making as a process of communication, and focuses on the process of developing an understanding of the artist’s world and its subsequent presentation to an outside entity. Anam Abbas and Em Jansen video installation, I Feel Like Shit These Days, documents the daily life interactions with people, objects and spaces. The mattress lying under the projected video adds to the ambiance allowing the viewer to experience the artwork more closely. The simple documentation and the informality of the content makes it relatable, establishing a comfortable mode of communication between art and the viewer.
You aren’t What you Eat by Sadia Khatri and Terrill Warrenburg delves into the relationship between food and social customs intertwined in everyday routines and the presumed intimacy surrounding it. The lack of personal association with the subject shown through photographs on the plate and placement of ipods makes the custom look more like a routine ritual devoid of any intimacy. The detailed process of documenting and examining the meals and activities surrounding it result in an immaculate representation of the activity as a social custom rather than a personal one.
Sonder Onism, the performance by Shaanay Mansur and Amalia Wiatr, celebrates the relationship of body with spaces it inhibits and the ones it creates through movement. The cultural context of these dance forms and their display bring a less explored flavor to the gallery space and transforms it. The space is no longer a backdrop or an empty enclosure, it is part of the movement and energy through the performance; It becomes the artwork itself. The performance not only questions the cultural connotation of street performance but incorporation of new media into art.
The Light and Sound Show by Samya Arif and Will Owen, and Faceless II by Sarah Paganwala and Eric Anthony Berdis extend the range of media explored in this collaborative project, pushing boundaries, literally and figuratively to create a multi-sensory experience.
The selection of artists from two completely different cities allows two distinct sets of “local” to interact and create amalgamated narrations around urban Indigenous identities. Interlacing of common and contrasting social practices from regions far apart serves as the core idea behind this collaboration and celebrate the cultural and artistic diversity of the outcomes.