Prize at any price!These words are carved in a child’s mind, psychology and personality from an early stage, and in such a strong scheme that even when he is a mature person, successful professional, and happy member of society, he still yearns for achieving some sort of award in his life. Actually the act of winning a prize is not a singular glory, but in its essence it denotes defeating the all other competitors. So either at school, on sports ground or in an office, winning means that you are better than the rest, from the same league, group and field.
But how does the matter of victory is treated in the world of arts and literature. For film, music, dance, theatre, art, design, architecture, fashion there exist numerous awards (like in the realm of literature, with its most prestigious honour in the form of Nobel Prize), yet the selection, criteria and impact of these awards always turn into points of contention, confrontation and conflict. Solely because in the world of creativity, it is rather difficult (if not impossible) to judge the worth of a single person compared to others. Hence a writer who wins Nobel Prize in Literature, does become a sought after author – soon after the announcement, but the importance of his work can be measured beyond – and despite the adjective of Nobel Laureate. There are a couple of examples, in which great writers such as Jorge Luis Borges, never achieved that prize, but a person like Winston Churchill was awarded this highest honour in literature. Also are the cases, in which the winners (such as Jean Paul Sartre) refused to accept the prize.
However the awards and prizes add in the aura of a creative individual, extends his audience, expands his popularity and enhances the acceptance/accumulation of his works, but at the same instance it imposes a larger responsibility – to meet the expectations and to keep the standards. Probably the real reward for an artist or writer is that he can still grow in his creative pursuit and can perform better than what has already been rated/claimed in highest terms.
The present issue of Art Now Pakistan examines and investigates the essence of awards and prizes and their effects on artist, viewers and general public. Since recent years have witnessed an increase in several awards for visual artists – which in one way lead to great celebrations and at the same time generate debates and disputes. In fact the two reactions are positive, since both provide a bigger understanding of an artist, the recipient of award and the subject to these discussions. In our Essay Section, Saira Sheikh and Dua Abbas Rizviexplore the history, outcome and advantages of these prizes in the world of art, especially in Pakistan; and AnilaZulfiqarin her Urdu text also comments upon these awards with a different angle.
Like awards the literature festivals have also become a new addition to our cultural scenario, and being part of a panel is the symbol of success and superiority, so in the photo-essay for March, Jamal Ashqian has focused on the recently concluded Karachi Literature Festival and has tried to recreate, document and preserve it through portraits of participating personalities.
With studio visits, profile pieces, exhibition reviews and book review, the present issue of Art Now Pakistancontinues to create a space for discourse, with multiple views and positions, since we believe that in the world of art and literature a single statement is a sign of confinement and narrowness. Different, diverse and disagreed concepts enrich the intellectual activity within a culture. In the same lieu awards and prizes, no matter how prestigious and exclusive these are, but with their simulation, regularly and annually, also invite, add and enhance the atmosphere of, and the pleasure in plurality – we desperately need and desire.