In the Twenty First Century the concept of space changed, much like the notion of time was transformed in the Twentieth Century. Last century witnessed how the speed took over man’s life, concerns and imagination. Trains, taxies and aeroplanes reduced the traveling times between two destinations. So a person, who may have started his day by having breakfast at 7 am at one town, could have a second breakfast – on the same day and at the same hour – while reaching another city within a different time zone.
Likewise, the invention of computer and other communication devices such as mobiles phones altered the ideas of space. With their cellular phones in their hand, people – reminding of some ancient mythological characters – transpose them from one location to other, without moving a single muscle. Similarly the Internet and other computer programmes have provided the opportunity to indulge into virtual space, without venturing into real. HenceSkype and video conferencing have offered a new concept of space, a blend of actual and imagined, of near and far, once possible in/through fantasies, but with latest inventions have become familiar and common practices.
So in a world flooded with virtual spaces, available on the computer screen, how the physical space is treated in the art world. An added concern for artists, already dealing with the divide of commercial and non commercial art places. These, the galleries have multiple roles: Of showcasing art, selling art works, inviting viewers to see art pieces andpromoting art and culture. Yet at the same instance these venues, whether state owned or private galleries – performing their tasks in diverse schemes and intentions – still fall into part of art establishment, which does not deviate from the notion of ‘recognized’ art course and ‘renowned’ artists.
Even though art galleries – with their specific ideas and agendas have contributed towards art of society, yet these represent conformed/confirmed definitions and descriptions of art. A paradoxical practice, since art at each phase of history changed – often challenged the agreed upon understanding of art. Artists have been creating works which were not considered art at the beginning, till those were accepted, acclaimed and accumulated as valuable items. In a similar manner, artists have been moving away from the normal set up of gallery or museum space and seeking locations, which can close – or bridge the gap between art and life.
Parallel spaces are options for artists who are not part of art establishment. Thus streets, urban sites and social/electronic media are a few options/venues to express their ideas (till all that is consumed by market economy). In our present issue of Art Now Pakistan, we are looking at the immense possibilities of art spaces, through historical context and the constraints of present times. In their essays from In Focus both AasimAkhtar and Zarmeene Shah examine the construct of art spaces in a different light. The same subject is tackled byNaziaAkram, as she documents city being a gallery for public art.
Along with regular features such as Profile and Interview, focusing on ShehlaSaigol and Mohammad Ali Talpur, two important personalities of Pakistani art, and the news of exhibitions, a new part is included in theReview section. SehrJalil and LaviniaFilippi visited artists’ studios and shared what is being produced, perceived and conceived in another art space that is still personal, exclusive and exciting. With this we aim to look at how art is being created – regardless of its multiple metamorphoses after it is displayed in a range of space. So the story from the heart of artist to the home of collector is what is presented here.