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Pehli Manzil

A first of its kind exhibition arranged by the fresh Fine Art graduates of Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (batch of 2015), aimed to move out of the traditional ‘gallery’ culture and cultivate an experience for the audience showcasing art in its rawest and yet most modified/adaptable form- some where they least expect it.

The exhibition integrated the architecture of the old house, situated on the first floor of an old building in Saddar, with the artworks of 13 artists.

“Our generation is tired of working with the galleries and the lack of interaction it has,” said Veera Rustomji, a participating artist as she explained the restrictive nature of a framed artwork in a white cubed gallery. “We wanted the audience to experience the character of this house,” said Rustomji who added the small sized paintings inspired by old photographs in different corners of the house.

The group of artists each had their own personal interpretation of the apartment and the surroundings and exhibited it in the form of artworks. From carpeting the old kitchen, adding paintings of family photos, changing the curtains, leaving a fallen chandelier in the middle of a room altering a sink as a vessel that questioned the linguistics of gender and so on. The artists reflected their personalities and inner thoughts as they created their own personal association and bond with the abandoned apartment.

“When I first came here, this place seemed so broken and lonely and through my artwork I tried to mend it a bit,” said Maryam Zaidi. “This space is the opposite of where I live and so it was a new experience”

Artist Shahana Afaq interpreted the space as chaotic because of the noise coming from outside and translated it into her painting ‘It’s Sort of Blue’, while on the other hand Faiza Ali found solace in the light streaming in from the balcony and in her painting she used colourful imagery enhanced with the reflection of the sunlight. “What we gather is what we understand,” explained Faiza as she spoke of the serenity that the environment of the house brought to her as it also reminded her of her grandmother. “We try to find the traces which can be there or they could just disappear”

A golden bra made of Resin by Hira Khan hung in the balcony. The balcony was constructed in such a manner that was open to view from the top but covered from the sides. “You can always tell who is living inside by the clothes hanging outside,” said Hira. The artwork called ‘32B’ was out in the open in the balcony but was still hidden from people outside just like our private selves, explained the artist.She also added inner wear like a plastic tank top in other places around the house.

The piece ‘Space Drama’ by Noreen Ali consisted of a painting on the wood of a pushing cart , along with traditional wooden shoes called chitkaari, an old clock and wires going through the painting lighting a bulb on top. Placed next to it was a chair that once belonged to her grandmother. The painting came to life by allowing the work to interact with its surrounding and inviting the audience to be a part of it. The art work was inspired by her association of the place with the memory of her grandmother who was Gujrati, ‘The house also had chitkaari in the toilet by which I reckoned that the people who lived here may have also been Gujrati’.

To Maryam Arslan the space served as a reminder of the house where she used to go for tuitions as a child and so that prompted her to fill a wall with old wooden exam boards. Each with canvas attached to them and her interpretation of the tuition experience in the form of drawings. The memories from her childhood depicted a calculator while the other drawings portrayed the exercise of joining pictures with the alphabets.

Sarah Mir, felt a space is incomplete until a family fills the walls with their portraits and hence created a large selection of framed portraits which hung on the wall. In the midst of all the frames was a mirror inviting the audience into the framework- to be a part of the story, of the family.

Participating artists: Rabia Ahmed, Ammara Jabbar, Fatima Nadeem, Maliha Saleem, Affan Baghpati, Faiza Ali, Hira Khan, Maryam Arslan, Maryam Zaidi, Noreen Barkat Ali, Sarah Mir, Shahana Afaq and Veera Rustomji



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