Initially, when one doesn’t find the noun that usually follows the word ‘mad’; one wonders if there has been a mistake? Or if there is some humor that unravels itself on further contemplation. When that doesn’t happen too, one wonders since all the artists featured in the show practice in Karachi if ‘mad in Karachi’ is a tongue in cheek way of putting ‘made in Karachi’? With that inquiry in mind, one makes their way through the exhibition hoping that the curatorial narrative will answer the quandary.
The madness associated to Karachi living is a source of news breaks for some and heart breaks for others. The intersection of the two is becoming a predominant subject in the Karachi art scene. MAD in Karachi II curated by Munawar Ali Syed at the ArtChowk Gallery explores similar manifestations through the works of 21 artists. The chosen 21 artists are synced with 21 million inhabitants of the city, each artist therefore one in a million.
It is safe to suggest that all art is interesting, but some art is more interesting than others. And for those reasons resonates in one’s memory, long after one leaves gallery space. Such was the case Roohi Ahmed’s piece The Shadow of my Love. Though minimalist and discrete in nature, the work speaks volumes. The red cloth, stretched in an embroidery frame almost like a border and it’s map exceeding the border. The red rag, though tattered embodies as certain delicacy and beauty, with certain areas marked in gold.Its tattered edges seem to be hinting at use and neglect. On one hand, the map looks like a woven web of sorts, while at the same time it also gives the look of cloth eaten away by insects.However, cooped in a corner, its installation failed to augment its conceptual or aesthetic beauty as the viewer was unable to savor the interplay of light and shadow, an element evidently crucial to the work.
AdeelaSuleman‘s Karr wa Farr is a beautifully painted sword whose blade is a wilted leafwith a snake nesting on its handle, mounted on a pedestal with arabesque pattern.Al-Karr wa’l- farr is a pagan Arabic combat custom of ‘hit and run’ style or ‘advance and retreat’. Suleman’s works are usually loaded with symbolism. Historically, snakes represent fertility or a creative life force. As snakes shed their skin through sloughing, they are symbols of rebirth, transformation, immortality, and healing. They are also interpreted as is symbols of eternity and continual renewal of life. The arabesque pattern may symbolize repetition. Among other things, Suleman’s sculpture seems to address theovert revival of medieval warfare tactics long abandoned and the growing regression of consciousness. She studies the trends in violence and bridges the gap between times and links the violence of the present with that of the violence of the past.
Sadia Jamal’s Cloud 9ensued from teaching children art, an activity she has been immersed in since thepast few years. Stirred by their ability to explicate complex phenomenons in minimalistic yet palpable expressions she turns an intangible form of nature into a tangible concrete reality. The situation of the dark clouds against the changing views of the city from the gallery’s large window is an interesting comment on the dark clouds looming the city. As the view changes these dark clouds dissipate into the emerging blue sky. In a way, Jamalnot only derives inspiration from the city but also utilizes it as a medium.
ArsalanNasir’sBox of Memories is a stimulating interactive installation of cartons stacked in a compact storage space of the gallery. On shedding light on the box, using a torch provided by the artist, the content of the box is revealed. The installation deals withthe tangible and intangible, visible and invisible, inside and outside of beings symbolized as boxes.
True to the diverse culture of the city, the show exhibits the diverse sculptural practices brewing within.The other participating artists include AamirHabib, Abdul Jabbar Gull, Abdullah Qamer, AliyaYousuf, AsadHussain, FahimRao, FrazMateen, HamidaKhatri, MasumaHalaiKhwaja, MoeenFaruqi , Muhammad Murtaza, Muhammad SadiqHussain, Munawar Ali Sed, NabeelMajeed Sheikh, NomanSiddiqui, SadiaSalim and TaqiShaheen