Pakistani based artist and writer Omer Wasim explores the queer qualities of urban spaces and studies the interactive relationship between those space
Pakistani based artist and writer Omer Wasim explores the queer qualities of urban spaces and studies the interactive relationship between those spaces and the natural environment through his practice. He graduated with a BFA in interdisciplinary sculpture, especially concentrating on video and film Arts after which he received an MA in Critical Studies from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
His recent body of work titled “As the Light Turns” was exhibited at Koel gallery, Karachi on 20th November 2018. This body of work consisted of various sculptures, installation pieces and a publication, which discussed in detail his research based on the mapping of forests located in Murree as well certain garden spaces in Karachi and studying the queer energies stemming from these spaces and their plants. The publication consisted of certain experiences of the artist along with two other individuals accompanying him on this particular venture; the episodes consisted of a queer encounter with a guide, an account of an erotic arrangement of Kamini flowers, an incident of the artist being stung by Bichoo booti (poison Ivy) and many more. On the other hand, the visuals presented at the show were based on the results of his experiences within these spaces, a study of plants as a substitute for sexual growth of the male body.
Component No. 3, an installation piece, comprised of chains hanging over a small picture and drawing, both bound by wooden frames. What should to be noted in this particular work is the arrangement of the drawing and the print: the print consists of a photographic image of fabric with folds, possibly a depiction of the face or symbolizing the body. A few inches below, a drawing of plant is depicted; the drawing looking less like a plant and rather resembling pubic hair. The overall installation could be depicting the male human body as a vessel of sexuality, taking the use of chains into consideration and the proportions of the artwork.
Another installation titled, Component No.7 consisted of a combination of drawing, mirror, video, a shirt piece and a wooden, flat sculpture. The drawing, which amalgamated graphite and watercolor, consisted of a male torso while, the shirt piece hung against a wall. A life-sized mirror, placed against the wall, was reflecting back a screen with the video of a pair of legs standing amongst a forest space while just across this piece, a wooden sculpture was laid flat on the ground. This particular sculpture had been designed in a way that four fittings had been made for the feet and the hands to fit, as if one is crouching on his/her knees and hands. This entire installation, perhaps the most interesting one, could be symbolic of the queer experiences individuals have in these spaces with thickened growths of plants. Omer states in his publication under the chapter Cruising that such spaces which have weeds and plants growing densely amongst them make room for queer and illicit relationships hence, this art piece is perhaps bringing the chapter into its visualized form, as per the artist’s findings.
Another interesting piece titled Component No. 12, consisted of a stretched canvas painted in a deep shade of maroon, while a wooden structure with a photographic print was put against the canvas. In comparison to Component No. 7, this piece stands as a single composition and is perhaps, more eye-catching taking into consideration the visual balance of the artwork itself. The photographic print (an area of a forest with a garment hung against the trees) along with the deep shade of maroon is possibly introducing the concept of lust in these spaces; with lesser information but with a much stronger visual execution.
Wasim’s oeuvre left the audience pondering about the work long after their initial visit. The artist presented a thorough and absorbing research studying the relationship between sexuality and nature. The play with scale, color and imagery not only makes his visuals engrossing but they also provide a physical and personal experience of his findings, as well as encourage future creatives to delve into their own queer dialogue within their respective practices.
Omer Wasim, artist statement published in As the Light Turns publication, Koel gallery, Karachi, 2018.
 Omer Wasim, artist statement published in As the Light Turns publication, Koel gallery, Karachi, 2018.