LAHORE: A character, a diehard fan of Sultan Rahi, in the short film and installation, remembers the time when a movie ticket used to cost just Rs5 in Lahore, lamenting that things have changed now.

While the film shows the condition of historical cinemas that are disappearing now, Naseem Begum’s song Jidda Dil Tut Jaey, Jiddi Gal Muk Jaey from the 1967 Punjabi film Mera Veer plays in the background.

These scenes are from the video installation, Cinematic Catastrophe, by Sarmed Cheema, in the group show of artworks and multimedia by six artists, titled Hein Kawakib Kutch–Aik Mohabat Chhay Afsanay, at Tollinton Block of the National College of Arts (NCA).

Cheema says his work aims at looking for a sustainable model to bring cinema back to all segments of society, not only multiplexes for the elite. “It would be ‘cinema-on-wheels’. We are acquiring a container in which 20 to 25 people would be able to sit and enjoy a movie on screen. We would take this cinema to the suburbs.”

Sarmed has plans to extend his research based on this project to see whether a new sustainable model for cinema could be created in Punjab once again to attract investors for producing films and to make the films accessible to the poor segments of society. He is documenting the old traditional cinemas of Lahore that are being dismantled or have been abandoned.

Multimedia artist Sumbul Natalia has displayed her body of work, titled ‘Sorry for inconvenience. But this is a rebellion,’ exploring the relationship between language, power and resistance and a woman’s place in it. She has literally deconstructed the legal terms in dictionaries, defining the role of women in the country. By using old pictures from the newspapers and pages of dictionaries, she has turned them into pieces of art to highlight the women’s struggle for their rights, another take on feminism.

“By using the law dictionary in my work, I am literally and visually deconstructing it. By using the printmaking technique I have dismantled the pictures, terms and words to highlight their arbitrary and fluid nature,” she says.

Sumbul has taken words from a law book and burnt them to make a piece of art. “That’s my rebellion,” she declares. She says that she wants to show that these are mere words of a language which can be reinterpreted and recontextualised to give a new meaning to them according to your will. Even legal terms and words taken as text in law are reinterpreted and changed according to our own whims, she asserts.

Usman Rana has installed his ‘visual representation of Sine wave frequencies with salt on aluminium’. He says his installation is about visual representation of Sine frequencies using different materials. “I chose to use aluminium as my surface and table salt as my medium. By doing so, I invite the audience to delve deeper into realms and beyond the perception of sound,” he says. In Rana’s installation, salt on the surface creates different patterns as triggered by different frequencies of sound.

“The patterns are different because every frequency creates a separate pattern and energy. Every sound, even the human sound, differs from person to person. So does every note on a musical instrument, eg the sound of a Bansuri or Sarangi makes different patterns as they have different frequencies,” he explains.

The other artists whose work are a part of the exhibition are Nadia Zafar, Fariha Rashid and Hira Gul. The exhibition was inaugurated by NCA Vice Chancellor Murtaza Jaffri. It will continue till Friday (tomorrow).

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2024

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