Mahatma Gandhi, in his usual attire of loin cloth and with a walking stick, arriving at the London airport was confronted by the British journalists. They, looking at his costume asked him, mischievously, ‘Mr Gandhi, what do you think of Western Civilization? To which the Indian leader replied, ‘I think it is a good idea!’
In the present world, disintegrating by the pandemic of Coronavirus, it is important to recall a good idea like the ‘artists’ residencies’. An institution that used to invite artists from across locations – cities, countries, continents – and provided them occasion and opportunity to mix, mingle and make works that correspond and converse with each other. Artists’ Residency in its formation is a step beyond national, regional, or political categorization. Creative personalities come together at a venue, may that be Modi Nagar in Delhi, Gadani rest house in Baluchistan, Vasl flat in Karachi, or Mansion of Lahore, and many others in different cities of Pakistan and abroad.
Often these interactions are without exchanging a single word – mainly because artists participating in a residency may not speak the same tongue. Yet they communicate with their works, but more importantly through their common ideas, approaches and strategies. Being an artist, at an artists’ residency, you negotiate with a new location, with your fellow artists, but more than that you come into terms with yourself. You need to shed your older persona to experience something new – usually in the context of art practice/art circle.
Artists while part of residencies discover unexplored dimensions of their artmaking. They produce works which lead into new directions for their personal practices as well as opening up unforeseen venues in the art of a society. The present issue of Art Now Pakistan addresses this aspect of art world through essays, profile, interview, book review, along with exhibition reviews and other features.
‘Artists Residencies’ in a sense are about moving out of oneself and experiencing something new, different, exciting, and exhilarating. A process that can happen in your studio too; perhaps required in a world changing with Coronavirus. And so is Art Now Pakistan; it does not require physical touch yet we have to wait for some time in order to establish even a virtual contact with readers, in this critical, crucial and calamitous phase of human history.