LAHORE: “If you have moist eyes, you are either in love or in Lahore,” said one of the visitors to ‘The Smog Show’ that opened in the National College of Arts (NCA) here on Wednesday.

Lahore has been in the grip of smog and its air quality index shows it among the world’s worst polluted cities of the world.

Sixteen artists got together to take on smog that has engulfed the city of Lahore and rest of Punjab in recent months. They are showing their artworks in the exhibition, curated by visual artist Irfan Gul Dahri, in collaboration with documentary filmmaker Jawad Sharif.

10-day exhibition opens at NCA

Abid Aslam, one of the sculptors who are a part of the show, explains his art piece, saying, “an artist comments on the conditions through visuals just as he/she visualises any matter. It’s the vision that’s disturbed by smog that affects the eyes and the image gets blurry. It’s this blurry vision that’s the subject of my work being exhibited in the show”.

Suleman Faisal is exhibiting his sculpture on a pedestal, depicting an apocalyptic scene, a future man wearing a gas mask, all engulfed in red, representing blood and death.

Kiran Saleem has carved out a human heart out of coal, all blackened with the smog that affects breathing and causes breathlessness. She titled her piece as Khak Ho Jaen Gey Hum Tum Ko Khabar Honay Tak.

Photographer Umair Ghani had installed his short prose poem, Dhund Dhuain Ka Hath Thamay, along with a headphone where visitors could hear him recite his poem.

Other artists who are the part of the exhibition are Ali Baba, Noman Siddiqui, Syed Faraz Ali, Arsalan Farooqi, Ammara Jabbar, Abida Dahri, Arsalan Nasir, Wajid Ali Deherkiwala, Mamoona Riaz, Mohsin Shafi, Ahsan Memon and Sameen Agha.

Irfan Dahri says if the issue of smog is not controlled at the earliest, it will be one of the biggest problems faced by the generations coming after us. He says

this is the right time to raise awareness among the young people who will take charge of things after us.

Drawings by public schoolchildren with messages written on them are also a part of the exhibition. In the drawings, the children from different classes have written messages like “Stop producing air pollution,” “We should stop polluting our environment. Help it,” “A lot of smog in the sky” and “Trees are our life savers”.

A documentary by Jawad Sharif on smog and the artists’ response to it is also a part of the show.

NCA Principal Prof Dr Murtaza Jafri inaugurated the exhibition. It would continue until Dec 10.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2021

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