KARACHI: Art should not be limited to a specific class of people, nor should it be restricted to being displayed at fancy galleries. It should be open to diverse interpretations by its viewers and although the message might appear vague, it still succeeds in reflecting the audience.
And a perfect example of this was the PeaceNiche Public Art Project, which in collaboration with various artists put together an event that transcended socio–economic barriers; bringing about an appreciation for artistic expression through various mediums and creating a sense of unity.
The event was held at The Second Floor (T2f) from September 28, 2012 and went on until September 30, 2012.
It served as a platform for both established and aspiring artists to come together, share ideas, knowledge and present their works.
This was the second effort made by the PeaceNiche team.
“Based upon the success of this initiative, we hope to see our vision of accessible and unifying art taken further by stepping out of the gallery space and into the public domain,” a PeaceNiche representative told us.
The event started out with a bang with people present to relish the work of various artists and engage in activities such as live paintings and discussions.
The venue was cozy and casually set up, reflecting a warm, friendly atmosphere. The admirable detail of the event was the participation of people from all walks of life and of different age groups, something that we Karachites rarely experience.
A variety of art pop up shops were on display throughout the exhibition and a range of other activities were divided among three days.
The work displayed varied from photography to paintings as well as handmade ceramics, t-shirts and wall lamps.
All prices were rather reasonable and each artist brought their own element to the event.
A Mandala Art workshop was organised for children. Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning “circle” and is an art form spanning centuries.
In this workshop, children learnt how to create mandalas: concentric diagrams that have spiritual and ritual significance in both Buddhism and Hinduism.
Live performances included paintings by chef and artist, Shamira Mahpara who succeeded in catching the attention of many street kids whom she involved in her work of art, distributing canvases and cracking jokes while at it.
Her story began when one day she decided to give Marilyn Monroe a ‘desi’ streak and so mimicked her photograph in keeping with her iconic Marilyn Monroe pose and gave her a make-over with a braid, a paranda and ethnic jewellery to go with the ethnic patterns on her clothes.
In addition to Summaiya’s live Marilyn Monroe painting fresco, and t-shirt printing, there was also recitation of Urdu literature and conversations with truck artist, Haider Ali. These were all organised outdoors for the public to participate.
A rather fascinating photography display, titled ‘Shutter Down’ was also prearranged by Insiya Syed (a photographer herself) later in the evening, displaying works of Akhtar Soomro, Ali Reza Mumtaz, Amean J,Humayun Memon, Khaula Jamil, Kohi Marri, Nadir Toosy, Omar Kasmani, Sitwat Rizvi and Yasir Nisar
These photos were projected on shop shutters across the road to encourage streetwalkers to participate in the slideshow.
The main idea behind the public display was to engage people from the streets to partake in this delight.
The second day was a bit lighter in comparison to the first but soon the bare spaces filled up as the evening show neared with live performances by ‘Shikari’ featuring Safwan Subzwari & Anthony Galli.
Raania Durrani (Visual Art Coordinator PeaceNiche) blew the audience away with yet another remarkable talent, her sweet voice singing ‘Aaj bazaar mein’ a poem by renowned Faiz Ahmed Faiz.
‘Shikari’ a local band formed by Safwan Sabzwari and Anthony Galli (lead guitar) stirred the night by bringing a blend of folk and new age rock music with Faisal Gill on the rubab/violin, Rizwan on tabla, Salman on the harmonium and Ali Ashraf on rhythm guitars. The backing vocalist for Shikari was Kulsoom.
The third and final day of the event was a little relaxed throughout the day though all the prices came down to negotiation.
Farhad Humayun brought a distinct flavor combined with star-power towards the end of the event. Farhad is a drummer/singer for Overload, initially a drum and dhol based band that has now started incorporating electronic music elements and sufi verses.
The performance left the crowd enchanted and hungry for more, but like all good things the event had to come to a close.
It was a great initiative which I am sure will inspire many to reach out with ideas of their own and organise events that would bring our people closer by encouraging unity, humility and patience.
To view the event gallery click here