Stories about art

The Karachi Biennale: Is art a bigger threat than extra judicial killings?

What transpired at the Karachi Biennale 2019 (KB19) soon after its inauguration is simultaneously disquieting as well as deeply insightful. It presents an opportunity for us to reflect on the systemic and endemic intolerance for dissent that exists in our social, administrative, and political structures. We live in times where art and speech are not only censured by official channels but even society at large often turns a blind eye to the callous condemnation of free expression by the powers that be. Anything that makes them uncomfortable is considered taboo and everything that questions the status quo is considered a ...

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Zahid Mayo: Breaking the canvas

When Zahid Mayo was studying at one of the most notable art colleges in the country, the National College of Arts (NCA) Lahore, he was a square peg in a round hole. Mayo had dreamed of studying there since he was a teenager and finally managed to gain admission in 2008. But, having come from a small village near Gujranwala, he felt alienated in his new surroundings. His fellow students with their impeccable English and urban ways made him feel like he will always be an outsider. But then again, Mayo was not one to take such things sitting down, and ...

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Raja Changez Sultan: the sage artist behind the canvas

When I sat down with Raja Changez Sultan to talk about his journey as an artist and a poet, I was already in awe of him. I had been following his work, both poetry and painting, for many years. Seven years of my life were spent sitting under a beautiful large azure green and vivid blue canvas from his Himalayan Odyssey series. The beautiful canvas that hung on the wall of the international donor agency where I worked at that time was a welcome relief in that drab, grey, reticent building. “It has been wonderful for me. You live ...

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Making Pakistan proud: In conversation with interdisciplinary designer Wajiha Pervez

Pakistan has an abundance of talent, and young Pakistanis continue to make their homeland proud internationally. One such Pakistani is Wajiha Pervez, a Pakistani artist, interdisciplinary designer, materials enthusiast and traveler. Qatar Foundation (QF), a conglomerate of academic institutions including campuses of many international universities, houses the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Arts (VCUQ). The university hosts a high-profile event, Tasmeem Doha, which hosts renowned artists and speakers from all over the world. Up until now, the board of the event only consisted of either key faculty members from the parent campus in Richmond or top local faculty. However, this year, ...

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Nadia, the painter

Nadia unlocked the door to the art studio, the hallway was empty and silence ruled. It was really early in the morning but this was the only time she would get to work on her semester project. Trying to balance the coffee holder in one hand, bag on her shoulder and keys in the other, she pushed the door open with her shoulder. Rushing to the nearest table, she put the two coffees hurriedly on the top before dropping her bag on the ground. She exasperated almost as if she had saved the day. Closing the door behind her, she ...

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When did dancing go from a form of art to a taboo, dishonourable act?

I am blessed to enjoy rhythm in my life, and blessed to have parents who put no restrictions on my body’s movement to music. I grew up as a typical uninteresting teenager; music blaring from my room, no matter what time of the day or night it was. I was so obsessed with music that even my telephone conversations with my girlfriends mostly consisted of singing along to the lyrics of the latest popular songs. All this was made possible due to growing up in a home in Lahore which provided space and privacy without disturbing the peace of other family members. My ...

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Will the real liberal please stand up?

The recently held Karachi Literature Festival 2017 was a hub alright. But a hub of what? What it stands for, ideally, is not just celebrating books and authors, but also to serve as a hub for Pakistan’s beautiful minds that allow critical thinking and are truly progressive. Literature and the arts, on such forums, are designed to allow an open inflow and outflow of thoughts and ideas, and an exchange of not just narrative but also counter narrative. One counterfoil session of the KLF 2017 was introduced as a discussion on conflict-resolution through art and enterprise. One of Pakistan’s well ...

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“So, what’s Pakistan like?”

The old man had the most startling blue eyes, the kind that glittered in a wizard-like way. He was a contractual worker fixing some room in the building where I work, and I met him in the kitchen over my morning coffee. He asked where I’m from and widened his eyes. He didn’t comment on how good my English is, but how American my accent is (which I take no offence or pride in – it’s not the two years of Master’s in St Louis but all those American movies and TV shows I watch). And then he asked me ...

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I am a Muslim and I would vote for Trump

On July 30, 1788, William Lancaster (an anti-federalist delegate to the North Carolina Convention) warned the participants of the possibility of a Muslim becoming the President of the United States and that there was nothing in the constitution against it. I can only see two scenarios where a Muslim could become the President of the United States. First, when all of America becomes Muslim, it would be their prerogative right to elect one of their own. Second, when all of the values, principles, beliefs and rights America stands for can only be found in someone who is a Muslim, then ...

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The faults in PEMRA’s decisions

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority – or PEMRA as we know it – is the body that aims to regulate and monitor content released in Pakistan on television and broadcasting networks.  This is their mandate: 1. Improve the standards of information, education and entertainment; 2. Enlarge the choice available to the people of Pakistan in the media for news, current affairs, religious knowledge, art, culture, science, technology, economic development, social sector concerns, music, sports, drama and other subjects of public and national interest; 3. Facilitate the devolution of responsibility and power to the grass roots by improving the access of the people to ...

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