Upon entering the uninhabited building, I was immediately taken in by the beauty in the slow decaying structure that the exhibition ‘Of Other Spaces’ was held in. It invoked awe and wonder reminiscent to the fantasy realm portrayed by the likes of Pan’s Labyrinth.
This is a house that awaits destruction after having stood against all odds being abandoned against the forces of nature. Recognizing the transient nature of such a space, artists from the ‘Creative Process’ sought it best to pay homage to this wonderful yet forgotten space in Lahore before it is reduced to rubble to make way for something else in its stead. The artists are a group of like-minded individuals comprising of Abdullah Qureshi, Anushka Rustomji, Arsalan Isa, Faraz Aamer Khan, Nisha Hasan, Natasha Malik, Sahyr Sayed, Sana Saeed, Shakila Haider, Zahrah Ehsan, Zakia Abbas and Zara Asgher.
Natasha Malik’s neatly stacked paintings titled ‘Eighteen Unfinished Thoughts’ caught particular attention which showed the creative process of the artist. They highlighted the curious process that she delves into which culminates ultimately in the form of a finished piece. The colour palette she employs invoke a sense of almost grasping at something tangible in a state of limbo. The image of a seashell painted on one of the walls titled “the Abode” also captures that essence, as if all of it were contained inside of this vessel.
Moving into another room, Faraz Aamer Khan’s prints were placed against an exquisite backdrop of rich purple and white hued walls, which complimented the choice of immersing dirt on the floor of his display, all being materials provided by the periphery. As Faraz poignantly states, “The house is a blip in time; the space exists in this cyclic loop of arrangement and disarray; a flux of creation and destruction.” His work contained a compression of the exact information of what the house was in different stages, trying to capture its essence over time in one single palimpsest of sorts.
On the rooftop Anushka Rustomji’s installation at once reminded me of something primordial, the powdery white drawings which seemed to be attempting to link the viewers’ subconscious to etchings from cave art or shamanic rituals. She “draws from personal experiences and cultural histories of the Neo Babylonian and ancient Persian era to prompt viewers to contemplate their relationship to the political world around them.”
Other Artists such as Abdullah Qureshi and Shakila Haider created an open space for dialogue about complexes that arise through societal forces on the human psyche, stemming from the basic house structures where all is hidden under various pretexts.
Zahrah Ehsan’s site-specific installation in the toilet was an engaging piece, a visual treat of fluorescent neon drawings and spontaneous flow of messages, “an instantaneous expression of an unresolved and unresolvable internal struggle.” This, “Half Birthday Celebration” was her light-hearted way of activating the space, giving the soon to be demolished house one last dance with the visitors.