Following shortly after the July 2018 elections, ‘Our Twisted Future’ extends the atmosphere of socio-political dialogue, critique and analyses into the gallery space. This solo exhibition of paintings by Asad Kamran was held from the 11th till the 15th of August at the Alliance Francaise, Karachi. The show also features live sound-scapes by US-based DJ duo Saad Memon and Haider Rizvi, known as SYNR. The juxtaposition of audio and visual creates an interesting experience for the viewer and perhaps reiterates the idea of technology and the influx of modern-day culture around us in the form of text, image, and sound all together.
As the title of the show suggests, the show revolves around the uncertainty of what the future of Pakistan looks like and the faith that we put into politicians and their arbitrary promises. Kamran, in an interview with Nigaah Art TV spoke about the lack political awareness and concern in today’s youth. The show addresses issues that are very relevant to the present time and the socio-political environment that surrounds us. It addresses the contradictions and ambiguities of politics in modern-day culture and being a millennial in Karachi.
The exhibition comments on the visual bombardment of political imagery, slogans and words that are all around us. There is an over abundance of political material that reaches us through television, print media or social media. Social media, specifically through our smart phones, are always in the palm of our hands and information reaches us readily, but how much of this information is true and how much is a façade built on false promises and credentials? The artist questions the very reality of such visual and textual material. He asks the viewer if this ‘image’ that we see through our screens is the real image. Or is it an image made up, designed and delivered to us, through the various media? The use of text in his works aptly conveys this idea with words like ‘tasweer’ (meaning: image), ‘illusion’, ‘hypocrite’ jumping at the viewer. One act of ‘deception’ that the artist addresses in the works and also discusses in his statement is the seemingly harmless and commonly used gesture of hand-waving. He views it as a tool employed by leaders and politicians to ‘distract’ the audience; a misdirection.
The language of his work is almost similar to that of vandalism or graffiti over posters and billboards that you see in Pakistan. The use of text, Urdu and English along with paint strokes on portraits is bold and jarring and the overlapping of text and urges the viewers to pay attention and figure out the various nuances that make up the work.
One may think of the fact that the over abundance of such material and ease of access to them has lead to their devaluation. By repetition and over exposure, things lose their meaning which leads to the desensitization of the matter. One piece in particular pays an ode to this idea. Titled ‘Geo tou Aisay’, a witty nab at the news channels that are at the forefront of providing over-exposure of political content to viewers, uses text to convey this idea. The word over is repeated multiple times on the canvas and adds a hint of irony to the piece the work reads:
when you say it over and over it stops making sense
when you see it over and over it stops making sense
Perhaps the underlying question being addressed in this exhibition, overall, is that as a nation, where are we headed? Are we blindly following the path presented to us, or are we critically analyzing, questioning, and understanding the modern-day culture we live in.