Stories about art

Coke Studio is making a mockery out of our culture

At the risk of sounding judgemental, let me state flat out that “Coke Studio” is the place where a revitalisation of folk culture is endeavoured by slaughtering it. A not-so-thoughtful cogitation, in this case, has led people to believe that through commercialism a win-win situation can be achieved to the benefit and amusement of all the stakeholders, i.e. the producers, the conglomerate and the MTV generation. The idea clicked. The “Coke Studio” fad is running amok. Social media is replete with ‘Naulakha Charkhas’ and ‘Jugni’. Rohail Hayat seems to have acquired the status of ‘god of music’. Rambling on about the latest episode of “Coke Studio”, ...

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Doctors, where art thou?

Pakistan has a count of ‘athara crore awaam’ (thank you, dear politicians, for continuously repeating this in the television talk shows) while the doctor/patient ratio was a mere 1:1,800 in 2010 – that means a single doctor catered to the medical woes of 1,800 people, and the situation has not seen much improvement ever since. The constitution of Pakistan clearly describes that the state has a responsibility, “To provide basic necessities of life, such as, food, clothing, housing, education and medical relief, for all citizens, irrespective of sex, caste, creed or race.” But where does the problem lie? It lies in the fact that ...

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Offended by a veiled woman holding a bra?

I have been asked to comment on this picture by the blog editor of The Express Tribune, probably because the last time I blogged about the niqab, I took a controversial stance that earned me hundreds of comments, at least a thousand “likes” and retweets on Facebook and Twitter, and the ire of several dozen internet trolls who branded me as the blogger who “supports nudity”. Rather than provoke an equal amount of ire this time, I decided to do things a little differently: I posted the picture on my Twitter account and asked people what they thought about it. Given the ...

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Are we in spiritual crisis?

In a world where there is so much profanity, we are losing our sense of spirituality. Even in our art and poetry, the animating themes of spiritual experience are undergoing a sort of transcendent ecstasy and are giving way to the darker expressions of the human psyche. Introspective poetry tends to border on the nihilistic and pessimistic; reflections on a broken world that seems beyond deliverance. Probing the side of human nature that is all too often splashed across our television screens – tragedy has become a form of art in the modern world. This exploration is critical, but we ...

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Cinema and class

Film as a revolutionary art form has for some time been at direct odds with the commercialisation of cinema, because it has put those on the margins in popular discourse. The decline of Pakistan’s local film industry has also coincided with changing economic structures in which the industry used to operate. Cinema has since long been associated with projection of national identity. With the advent of globalisation, film has been used to project various group identities and has also changed the paradigm in which culture functions. In the 1970s, Indian actor Amitabh Bachan had come to represent the quintessential anti-hero in ...

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Faiz: Political poetry for the soul

A piece of Faiz’s poetry looks like any other poetry. Black printed script on white parchment. The staid, two-dimensionality of parchment. The mundane blackness of the script. But as the reader’s gaze sweeps upon the verses, he is conscious of a clamor therein; a raging storm extricated within the dull entrapments of font and page, pining to be let loose, to disturb the tranquil air, to prod awake the sleeping conscience, to alter the course of the clouds, the blow of raucous winds, and flow of mighty rivers. Yes, these grandiose metaphors do complete justice to Faiz’s poetry, because the ...

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In defence of graffiti

Santosh Kumar is one name I will never be able to forget all my life. This is not because he is someone special in my life; it is because I see his name painted on the walls of Karachi almost every day. He is the man with a cure for every problem: “Santosh Kumar: Jadu tonay ka mahir.” (‘Expert at casting spells’) “Santosh Kumar: Pat mangni jhat biya.” (‘Engaged in a jiffy, married in no time’) The walls in the city have been used for this cheap and effective advertising for decades. However, what people don’t know about street art is that it ...

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The curse of the creative

Every creative person at one time or the other faces one of the most debilitating crises in his/her life: fear. It is the thing that makes them wake up at night drenched in cold sweat, threatening to leave them in a deep abiding funk. It comes in a variety of different flavours, from an idea that has been festering in their mind but is refusing to translate into reality to the fear that their work might be seen as trite and unacceptable but the worst is when one is just starting out and can’t come to terms with what ...

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Video Blog: Singing for peace

French author George Sand wrote in a letter to her friend in 1872: “Art for art’s sake is an empty phrase. Art for the sake of the true, art for the sake of the good and the beautiful, that is the faith I am searching for…” Mankind’s struggle against ugliness is as ancient as the human existence itself. In these times, as we continuously witness new wars and bloodshed in the name of “civilizational conflicts”, Sand’s statement should be the manifesto of every creative person. Sadly, in our not-so-pure land, commercial artists of every medium continue to produce material which doesn’t ...

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Assaulted for wearing a sleeveless shirt

It was only a matter of time anyway. A few days ago, a police officer along with his squad burst into the Nairang Art Gallery and beat up the female curator for wearing a sleeveless dress and interacting with men. The police officer, a SHO, was perturbed by the ‘fahash’ ambience of the place. After being assaulted the woman and her colleagues who came to her rescue were taken to the police station and booked under an obsolete ordinance. Nairang Art Gallery is a work of devotion to art, literature, music and design by the iconic architect Nayyer Ali Dada. Some say ...

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