KARACHI: Ninety-three students were awarded degrees and diplomas at a stately ceremony of the 23rd Convocation of the Indus Valley School (IVS) of Art and Architecture on Saturday afternoon.
Five of the total number of graduated students received diplomas in digital film and video, whereas the rest obtained the bachelor’s degree. Among them, 17 students were from the department of architecture, 10 from the department of interior design, 23 from the department of communication design and 21 from the department of textile design. Two students had a three-year diploma in textile design and 15 from the department of fine art.
Welcoming the guests, executive director of the school Samina Raees Khan informed them on the different services, including community service, and reaching out to the marginalised segments of society, which the institution was rendering. Dr Jawaid Haider delivered state of the academy speech. He talked about the “predicament of education” in the country which he said was “painful to fathom”. He said the IVS was an important art and architecture school because it offered a “glimmer of hope” albeit in a limited way. He said we had to be persistent.
Eminent political scientist Dr S. Akbar Zaidi delivered the convocation address. He first spoke on the reasons that brought him to the event, since, he said, he was anti-tradition and had never been to any convocation before. Rationalising his presence at the ceremony, he said since he’s a teacher, interacting with the young ones was part of the learning process. He said he accepted every interaction with students. He said if he’d been invited to speak at a convocation of doctors he’d have probably turned it down, but at an event where there were “creators of art” was an opportunity not to be missed.
‘Is it the market that defines how good an artist is’
Dr Zaidi said while he was searching for a theme for his address he came across an essay by a Kolkata-based art historian, Tapati Guha-Thakurta, in book Barefoot Across the Nation — Maqbool Fida Husain and the Idea of India edited by Sumathi Ramaswamy, on the incident in which distinguished artist M. F. Husain was forced into exile by Hindu right wing groups. He said in the essay the writer questioned what art was and raised concerns regarding artists’ responsibility, freedom of expression, nationalism, secularism in India etc. He said even in the context of Pakistan, there was a debate on what public or private art was. Quoting a paragraph from Thakurta’s essay referring to attacks on M. F. Husain, he said the attacks highlighted the lack of visual and artistic literacy in the general public domain.
Stressing the phrase ‘the indiscriminate seduction of the market’ that Thakurta used, Dr Zaidi pointed out whether art could be brought into the public sphere outside the boundaries of a gallery space. He then himself posed a few questions: “Is it still art if it is not purchased by art collectors and gallery owners? Somebody made something and it’s not bought, is that art? Is it simply the market that defines how good an artist is? How does one break the elitist hold on what one considered to be art and make it more popular, public and more accessible? Can art be political?” He said the questions interested him because they were “troubling and unsettling”.
After Dr Zaidi’s talk degrees were awarded to the graduating students followed by academic awards. The valedictory speech was delivered by Jovita Veronica Alvares. It was thoughtful of the young graduate to remember two of her batch-mates who were no more with her. She profusely thanked all the faculty and staff members as well as her fellow students for making their time at the IVS memorable.
In her concluding remarks, the chairperson of the Executive Committee IVA, Sameera Raja, said she’d like to share her thoughts (with the graduating students) that she learned in her life from people wiser than her in the hope that they may assist the students in their professional life. She advised them to “be nonconformists, dare to be different, listen to your gut, don’t take yourself seriously, be passionate and authentic, learn to say no, persevere in achieving your aims, give back, empathise, education someone, believe in the dignity of labour, be positive, take ownership even of your mistakes and be fearless”.
The individuals who received awards in different categories at the ceremony were: Saran Razzaq and Maham Khursheed (Dr Salimuzzaman Siddiqui award), Jovita Veronica Alvares (Abu Shamim Areff award), Sameen Javed and Umaima Mughal (Agha Hassan Abidi award), Farehah Aftab (Zahoorul Akhlaq award), Khizer Husain Laghari (Thariani award), Naheed Yahya (Teaching Excellence award), and M. Faisal and Ahsanullah (Dedicated Service award). Five awards were given in the overall distinction category to Syeda Urmia Abbas Naqvi, Naveen Kazmi, Umaima Mughal, Reja Zahid and Jovita Veronica Alvares. The Founders’ award went to Razin J. Rubin and Anum Abdullah got the IVS Alumni award.
Published in Dawn December 11th, 2016