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LAHORE: ArtSpeak, a Lahore Biennale event, was held at the Alhamra Art Center, The Mall, on Thursday.

Four artists discussed the works they displayed at the event. Mehreen Murtaza said that by putting on display her work at the Lawrence Gardens she wanted to see the response of the people to a site-specific project. She explained how she started her project titled “...How will you conduct yourself in the company of trees.”

The artist worked across a range of media to explore the intersecting worlds of technology, nature, science and spirituality. Her interactive installation had been exhibited previously in the Manchester Art Gallery.

The artist said trees had been given a voice through human technologies which convert electromagnetic signals to sound. “If plants are given a voice through human means, what are they able to express? How are humans able to connect with plant life?

Warda Shabbir, another participating artist, was of the view that religious texts might often incline towards a fatalistic view of human life. There exists at the same time the concept of choice – choosing right over wrong, eternal bliss over worldly and temporary comfort, self-sacrifice over self-centeredness. The path or Siraat then becomes means of navigating oneself through the clutter of these possibilities. It thus implies the infinitude that is a part of geometric development in Islamic art.

Ali Kazim said Lawrence Gardens was a safe place for young people to spend a peaceful time. He worked on the marks young people leave on trees and stones by carving their names and hearts. He said his work was based on a Lover’s Temple Ruins bringing together five-thousand ceramic hearts placed within the loose structure of a temple, and broken pillars. Fragile clay heart sculptures suggest belonging.

For Noor Ali Changani, bricks are the symbol of home, family, power and strength. “In our society a man’s responsibility from a very young age is to provide for his family, and to build a shelter or a home”.

“This idea is so deeply entrenched in our psyche that some men spend their entire lives pursuing this dream,” said the artist.

He said such thoughts inspired him to make a work that provides another interpretation for a brick wall, one in which the wall structure appears more organic, and not as rigid as how we understand walls to be.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2018