Talking walls

Updated 21 Aug 2020

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A SCREEN grab from one of the pieces at the show.—White Star
A SCREEN grab from one of the pieces at the show.—White Star

KARACHI: Wall: a symbol of division or discrimination. It can also symbolise shelter and a sense of security in the context of a home. But what if walls were personified? If that can be done, one could hear or see a point of view which, as it were, is straight from the horse’s mouth. This was the concept behind a show projected onto a wall of a restaurant on Tuesday titled If the walls could talk.

Directed by Pomme Amina Afzal, produced by Ayesha Baigmohamed and curated by Amin Gulgee and Sara Pagganwala, the event featured 34 videos by artists belonging to more than 20 countries. In the introductory note to the show, two references were given: first, of Mark Zuckerberg’s concept of ‘timeline’ instead of wall for the social networking website Facebook; second, the Silence=Death Project, an awareness programme for AIDS, by Avram Finkelstein founded in 1987. Both have their significance, but to be honest, even if these references were not given, considering the expansion of the online world in the pandemic-hit times, the show would have been just as meaningful and timely.

The videos projected onto the big wall touched upon topics ranging from the personal to the universal

The first reason for its timeliness is what Pomme in her opening remarks claimed, that is, the event was a “labour of love of her team to the city Karachi”. She said she hoped that things would now return to normality [post-Covid]. Well, it remains to be seen. However, the videos that were projected onto the big concrete wall touched upon topics that ranged from the personal to the universal. It indicated that the issues that we would ‘normally’ deal with or try to come to terms with were the chief concern of the participating creative souls.

There were five segments — perspective, conflict, marking, loss and quest — that art lovers (who sat in their cars complying with the SOPs) were required to mull over — you could also call them the categories that the visuals were made under. It was a whole gamut of emotions. Not just emotions, the geographical areas covered by the artists were as diverse as West Bengal and Tunis, Santo Domingo and Karachi. The last, the Sindh capital, perhaps was the most featured part of the world in the show, understandably so. The videos were shot with multiple techniques, such as filmed with handheld cameras to the simple texts on frames. This lent versatility to the efforts — the efforts that were difficult to wall in.

Published in Dawn, August 20th, 2020