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Bijli, Pani Aur Gas

Weighed with contextual implications, the hierarchy pertaining to the allocation and consumption of natural resources is marred by the constant state of shadowy turbulence. The systematic distribution of said resources normalizes a defunct state of coexistence. Bypassing the romantic elemental state of power, it seizes the jugular of a vexing parable. The febrile threshold of power symmetries..the smoldering crucible of systematic ineptitude. The urban fabric..a mere patchwork of rogue negligence and silent junctions, all collected in a state of functioning dissonance. The slivers of society neatly arranged and incubated in a cognizance. Neatly folded and stacked atop a plinth, a raging scoundrel that aligns itself to it’s hostile permutations. It is befitting that this years Taaza Tareen Residency was thematically aligned towards Bijli, Pani Aur Gas.

This year the culminating display was held at The Dawood Foundation Ghar, a recently restored intimate quarter overlooking the Quaid’s Mazar. In the belly of the city the house was a recent manifestation that convenes as an immersive and inclusive space. VASL is well known for it’s thematic decisions that allow the residents to engage with the city on a personal level.

Thie year’s residents were Maryam Arslan, Sabeen Ahsan, Rahman Zada and Mujtaba Asif. The artist’s works were laced with research and personal inquisitions into their individual practices to create a cohesive exhibition.

Maryam Arslan’s was provocative and freighted with slippery candor. Her dialogue with Bijli Pani Aur Gas was rendered with unabashed allegory. Arslan managed to cook up platters of food with paint. Her primary research is located within the primitive assertion of food and its dependance natural resources, perhaps in her engagement with this thought her work becomes a profound caricature of the political notions of resource distribution. Her work was rife with brazen humor and flagrant quip set against a raucous display of color and strokes crafted with wanton flair. Like a sinewy riddled straddled with swelling whimsy, Arslan’s work was unequivocally original.

Sabeen Ahsam’s work investigated water as an elemental state. A condensation of the political and social consequences that have resulted in water as a scarce commodity; her work explores this relationship as a visual artist. Profoundly resonant, her visuals commanded with subtle poetics and earthen tones playing with each other like mist and smog. Hung like eerily tranquil films, aged and ripe with poise and bickering opulence, her work showed restraint and harmony.

Rahman Zada’s work explores the visible and invisible networks that allow for the transmission of power; he explores the innate relationship of these networks with human life and investigates them as means of sustaining or disruption. Zada’s arresting visuals paired with the boisterous wires spilling in and out made for an operatic flair. A makeshift socket also played a video of a working fan that could be seen through the socket holes. Laced with parables and quiet tones his work left the viewer with anticipation and tinted exclamation.

Mujtaba Asif work resonated with didactic charisma. Carrying a plebeian ceremonial virility, his research was translated through various mediums. From musings of water contamination converted into steel platters with etched poetic writings to cavorting with the idea of materials present in the home as components of weapons. His work was rife with nuance and ingenuity. He had created a contraption with a motor pulling and spilling into a barrel with a leaking pipe collecting the spilling water, he described it as a comment on a the structure of the society.. The piece stood roaring the middle of the room, guffawing and scuttling with verbatim. His use of material was done through calculated whimsy and shrewd observation.

Arslan Isa was the writer-in-residence for the course of the residency; he collected the artists rampant quirks and wary observations into a condensed ensemble. Perhaps in enabling a written outcome from the outset allowed for a more organic closure of the residency.

VASL has persistently presented artists with opportunities to engage with the city and in doing so it allows the artists to explore different aspects of their own practice. The exhibition perhaps was a sliver of what transpired during the course of the residency, the artists were engaging with different communities and conducting workshops. While it may not fit into the banter of displayed art it ripples onto a larger radius, perhaps in retrospect those engagements will align further into the rhetoric of the artist’s practices and will be talked about further.

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