Stories about art

Let a photograph familiarise us

They say a photograph is worth a thousand words. A single image is able to portray and capture raw human emotions and project it to a wider audience. Wars, natural disasters, sporting events have all become muses to showcase and highlight the extraordinary, resilient and inspirational moments of the human race. These moments have the power to evoke strong emotions which can prove to be the catalysts triggering political and social change. In times of war, a photograph has the ability to overshadow political speech. Whether it is Capa’s classic shot of the falling soldier during the Spanish civil war or ...

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Welcome to A’ Levels where school’s too cool for you

“Art tuitions?” Two heads shake somberly in unison at the prospect. “But I thought Art was…” “Don’t even think about saying it’s innate. It’s not.” Students across Karachi will unanimously testify that after-school makeup tuitions exist for every subject under the sun. But, this was the first time we had heard of someone taking tuitions for Art. Perhaps it was nervous backlash against one of the worst O’ Level Art results ever this year when the Cambridge International Examinations suddenly decided to give the Monets of my class Bs and Cs? Did we have to go to Art tuitions now because we suddenly ...

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Would someone please pop the desi-elite bubble?

Have you ever tried to see through a soap bubble? The world seems distorted; askew. But what if you were inside the bubble? What if everywhere you looked, your vision was tinted by the soapy, bubbly lens – the world would still look distorted but you wouldn’t really know, because no matter which angle you chose to look out, the world would seem the same. So, when one lives in the ‘elite’ bubble, all seems quite well with the world! People in this bubble hail from rich families, have been educated at either the most expensive schools or have a foreign degree, promote ...

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Never let me go: A film that asks questions

Yesterday was the first day of the 54th BFI London Film Festival-and what a start it has proven to be. The opening night gala of Never Let Me Go, a film by Mark Romanek (acclaimed director of One Hour Photo) does not fail to impress. The film has a talented, young, British cast led by Keira Knightley (The Duchess 2008), Carey Mulligan (An Education 2009) and Andrew Garfield (The Social Network 2010). Based on the Booker Prize shortlisted novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go is a dystopian drama set in an alternative world, in which a ‘National ...

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The Birdcage, distorted in Pakistan

Having first learned of the theatrical debut of ‘BirdCage’ in Lahore, I could not help but feel jubilation and mirth. A gay-themed play? I almost fainted with anticipation. This was something I was definitely going to watch. First things first. The producer Dawar Lashari, co-producers Waleed Zafar and Shaheryar Khan and director Ijlal Khan must not only be thanked for bringing us this light-hearted comedy amidst these insane times to our country, where one cannot switch to news channels without expecting another macabre breaking news, but also they should be lauded for their courage to even think of staging a gay-themed play. However, ...

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Where art and cinema failed Pakistan

We are constantly judged as the nation that has failed. What the world fails to see is that Pakistan continues to breathe. Despite the daily risk to their lives, people still get up for work, sit in their Japanese cars, listen to Coke Studio recordings, work at multinational companies, munch on American chocolate bars and end the day with by watching channels broadcast from Hong Kong with a plate of daal chawal. The men and women on the field continue to live on, for those who have avoided the flood wage through the day. While those who are victims ...

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Do judge a book by its cover

A book’s cover design is more than just the artwork on the front and back, unimportant once we’ve plunged into the storyline.  In these days of limited readers and competitive markets, a good book cover screaming “I’m interesting! Buy me!” can make the difference between a sell-out and a washout. Early hand-bound books, had simpler cloth or paper covers with little design. Decorative covers and printed book designs became common when mechanical methods of book-binding were introduced. The cheap production of books in abundance meant that more attention could and had to be spent on cover design. In the early 20th century, ...

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Dum Ghutku – a class of its own

The chorus verse employed in Arif Lohar’s  Coke Studio rendition of ‘Jugni’ in ‘Alif Allah Chambay di Booty’  conveys simultaneously a sense of ‘suffocation’ and ‘with every breath’ in traditional folk-speak. Something that I, and perhaps many, would never have come to know about had Rohail Hyatt not decided to introduce a platform where the varied strains in Pakistani music could meld to give birth to magic on screen and in sound. Pakistani ‘sufi’ music is a term that generally represents a melting pot of folk, cultural, mystic and religious influences. Perhaps Hyatt’s greatest achievement with Coke Studio is the fact ...

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