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Natasha Jozi- Maneuvering Performance Art to Show the Darker Side of the Death Penalty

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Natasha Jozi- whenever the name pops up, only one word comes to our mind and that is art or to be more precise, performing art. She is a visual thinker, an artist and also a writer interested in the performative self, collective experience, and Eastern philosophy.

 Talking about her vast experiences, she has performed and exhibited her work at International Festival of Video Art 2014 (Venice), MagnanMetz 2014 (NYC), Index Art Center 2014 (NJ), PPL 2013 (NYC), DCCA 2013 (Delaware), LAABF 2013 (NYC), La MaMa 2013 (NYC).

 In 2017 Jozi founded “House”- an independent initiative that works towards generating discourse around performance art in Pakistan.

We recently came to know that Natasha is curating the show ‘We’ve Been Waiting For You’ hosted by Justice Project Pakistan (working to improve the justice system of Pakistan), happening on 10th of October (“The World Day against Death Penalty”) at Bari Studio and our intriguing self wanted to dig into more details and here is what she had to share about her showcase. 

  • Tell us a little about your partnership with JPP and what do you think about Pakistan’s justice system?

It has been great working with Justice Project Pakistan as a partner and especially coming along with an understanding of what they do in terms of their work and what they represent as an organization. I am working with them under the perspective of bringing an art exhibition together. The partnership has been quite interesting in terms of what art does and what JPP does and how does that come together? I feel the complexities of the justice system are always very difficult for a common man to understand or relate to.

I feel JPP is trying to bridge that gap between the justice system and the complexity that it comes with and that is very similar to what I do under House Ltd. So, I expect that partnership with JPP shall be very interesting because we’ve talked about themes, about ideas and how performance art can be used as a vessel to represent themes that JPP works on.

  • You’ve worked both in Pakistan and abroad what difference do you feel in the sense of how art is valued here and abroad?

I would talk about this in terms of two perspectives. One is as an artist and the other as a viewer. As a performance artist, I’ve experienced that there was initially not much of an understanding of the medium in Pakistan.

And I also feel that in terms of the value of the medium, since a lot of the work that is being produced in Pakistan has an element of becoming a product that you can actually monetize on or you can buy or sell. But performance art is something that cannot take the shape of a product because it’s an experience. It happens for a short period of time and then it’s over. So, it’s very ephemeral in that sense.

In the international art market, artists are delving with themes that cannot be put together in a form package that you can buy or sell. It’s very important to realize that the value of art is beyond buying or selling it, but also, to experience it.

As a viewer, I really enjoy some of the artists’ work in Pakistan but I also feel like there is a lot of potential in young artists, the work that they’re doing where they’re not allowing the market or the business to affect their process. I feel it is very important for an artist to liberate themselves from the fear of value is equal to money because we’re living in an age where innovative ideas are of great significance? I definitely feel that with the wake of the internet, a lot of artists are now traveling abroad and are coming back and just sort of exchange that is happening.

Also, in Pakistan, a lot of times we look at something from an exotic lens or we try to mimic or reproduce what’s being done abroad. I don’t really think that is of value. But at the same time, I definitely see that contemporary artists from my generation are trying to create a more balanced or a more contextualized relationship with what’s happening in Pakistan and what’s happening outside Pakistan.

 

  • What do you think about Justice Project Pakistan?

I was not familiar with JPP before I was contacted by JPP for this particular project. Once I got to know about their work, I met the team and I saw the projects that they have been doing in the past. I was sort of intrigued, and a little amazed to see a human rights organization that is so much invested in the people and what is happening in their lives.

I feel that JPP is trying to bring awareness and spark conversations that are around the justice system. I feel why such organizations are so much needed is that they try to create a more humanize and understandable way of looking at the sensitive issues that people are facing in Pakistan. It is great that they are trying to use disciplines that are beyond just law and trying to reach out to a wider audience. It’s a pleasure to work with them. 

  • How has been your experience of curating performances for ‘We’ve been waiting for you’?

The curatorial experience for me is not just about curating an exhibition as an organizer. For me, it is sort of coming together and trying to create an experience that is long-lasting. I’ve been working with the artists under the initiative that I run called House Ltd. and I have cultivated a relationship with them. So, every time we come together, we go into a deep-rooted conversation, look at what we are doing and try to unpack not just the themes but, also how can this exhibition contribute to the larger discourse of performance art in Pakistan.

And so for this exhibition as well, the ideas that we were dealing with were very real. I spent a lot of time just having conversations with the artists and discussing the craft of performance art.

A lot of the work that we do for performance art is not rehearsed. Thus, it is very authentic as an artist and as a curator to go into that space and to get involved in.

  • With what kind of expectations should people come to this event?

The first thing that I would definitely like to say is that space and the venue that we’ve selected for this exhibition, Bari Studio, is amazing for performance art. The moment I stepped into Bari studio I fell in love with it.

 The audience would definitely experience something that they have never seen before in terms of venue and how it’s used.

Also, we are having 10 performances in one venue. It’s going to be a really charged experience for everybody where all of the artists are dealing with themes around the death penalty and doing performances that are very authentic and very raw. The materials that the artists have used in the performances range from, real bones to bricks to sand. Going from one performance to another where all of these have been curated in relationship to one another, each performance will be experienced individually, but then all of them coming together is going to have an impact of its own.

  • What is art for you?

That is definitely a very loaded question. I would say for me art is about an experience, what you experience when you look at something. It is not just a visual experience, but a very sensory experience. That is why performance art is a medium that I’m addicted to.

It cannot be confined. I definitely have a lot of reservations about the way the market dictates the production of art. I don’t think that one should allow the market to dictate what the artist is going to make or what art should be because art is definitely about looking at life and looking at what is around you from an unfazed way.

Art can actually supersede or can reach a point of impacting a larger audience and can eventually become universal and transcend space and time and location.

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The Man Behind The Maestro

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan produces magical music and without a doubt he’s amongst the most sought-after world artists

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Famed Pakistani music maestros Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s producer and global manager Salman Ahmed has said that the 3 UK concerts had sold out completely showing the popularity of Pakistani artist across the South Asian communities.

Speaking to media, the veteran talent promoter and producer said that Rahat Fateh Ali Khan produces magical music and without a doubt he’s amongst the most sought-after world artists.

Salman Ahmed

Salman Ahmed has been managing Rahat Fateh Ali Khan for about 10 years. The music maestro was well known in Pakistan because of his strong vocal skills but Ahmed turned around everything for the artist and had made him a household name in millions of homes in South Asia and beyond. Three months ago, the University of Oxford awarded the music doctorate degree to Khan – a huge personal honour for the musician and for his country of origin.

“When I look back to nearly a decade long association with the maestro, I must admit that what a journey it has been on a global platform, cities across Vancouver all the way to Auckland. Achievements like the Noble Peace Prize Performance conceptualisation, United Nations, Music Room at the Oxford University, Honorary Doctorate for the maestro and hundreds of concerts all over the world. Thank you to all our associates, promoters and most importantly to my PME family who has made this happened with their devotion. I especially thank to our families, who have sacrificed the most perhaps and to all the audiences who have attended our concerts in huge numbers.”

Salman Ahmed said that credit for the success of Khan goes to his entire team who worked hard throughout the year on the shows and on the brand of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan

“Behind every show, there’s sweat, blood and toll. We work hard all the time to maintain the highest of standards in what we promise and produce. Ustad Rahat performs for a few hours on the stage but thousands of hours of hard work are invested in the production of his shows and that hard work has worked to make him a mega hit. As a way of example, for our concerts starting this weekend at Wembley Arena more than 35 band members will be touring with the singer. There is a team separately working in an international office here in London on logistics, concepts, arrangements, production and marketing. Once these shows are over, we will start working on the next round of events. There is no break.”

In North America, due to India and Pakistan tensions at the government level, Salman Ahmed accepted that attendance at Rahat’s shows was slightly less, however he clarified that all the UK concerts were sold out. “You cannot deny that Rahat is loved by Indians, Pakistanis and other ‘Urdu-understanding’ communities. There is no alternative to him.”

Salaman Ahmed is one of the most experienced Asian art promoters, who has been in the field of entertainment from the age of 16 and started his business in London in 1987. By playing a big role in music maestro Rahat’s international success, he has now known as a global promoter and music producer. His alliance with the showbiz commenced some 32 years ago when he started organizing Bhangra nights and small British Asian concerts when British Asian singers had started making their mark. There was no social media and no Asian channels around. The BBC covered one of Salman’s first concerts at that time with a report to showcase how the second generation of British Asians was growing with a fusion of British and Asian culture. Salman was then just a teenager.

So far Salman Ahmed has worked with some of the top Indian artists including, Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Sonu Nigham, Mika Singh as well.

“You should only do what you are good at. You can do excellence only in your job if you are devoted to it with full passion and commitment. I believe in total commitment and nothing else.”

Unlike the maverick ways of some, Ahmed believes in treating his clients as a product. “My clients are my products. I promote products in the market. We invest in our products. We take risks and we inject our life into our products to make them a phenomenal success,” said Salman Ahmed acknowledging that Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan has been the biggest hit for him as a producer.

He says he believes in promoting Pakistani talent before the world and for Rahat’s London shows he is introducing around a dozen Pakistani musicians for the first time. “These are young, educated and dynamic musicians who have been playing at the Basement Café and in the underground scene in Karachi and Lahore. They are doing an outstanding job. For the fusion part of Khan Saheb’s shows these musicians will be used. They will be performing in front of the international audience numbering in the thousands and this will bring a unique kind of confidence in them.”

Salman Ahmed said he was very excited about the latest round of shows because Ustad Rahat Ali Khan will be doing fusion, using instruments and sounds not tried before.

Salman Ahmed with Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan

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Lightingale Records: Ali Zafar Launches Record Label for Youngsters

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Ali Zafar Plays harmonium in a winter sun

Ali Zafar needs no introduction when it comes to performing arts in sub continent. Started his career as sketch artist in late 90s and then came as an actor and finally a vocalist with outstanding skills, releasing numerous hit singles and albums Ali has always managed to keep his job stable and thriving even during the most difficult times of his life.
Considering music is his first love, Ali Zafar has recently announced his record label, Lightingale Records, under which he aims to promote new musicians and artists.

Lightingale Records

Lightingale Records Logo

In his recent instagram post, Ali explaining the reason of starting this label, said, “Our land is ripe with talent waiting for the slightest of opportunity to flourish. However, due to lack of understanding of the importance of the Arts and Humanities in our society, we have been unable to develop a culture where talent can be nurtured, groomed and guided to reach its true potential, nor build an industry.”
He further said, “During all these years as a performing artist, I have had the great fortune of learning about different aspects of the music industry. As artists or human beings in general, we are intrinsically prone to become self-indulgent or internally focused, but that is the mistake that most of us make. I feel the only thing that carries on beyond our existence, is the honesty in our work and the sincerity of our intentions. An artist leaves a legacy, and surely that should not just be about him or her. In an era where we are bombarded with tools that bring out the vanity in us, I think it’s important to see the beauty and talent in others and help them achieve their goals and dreams also. Become a part of their struggle and journey and help them in any way you can. As I said before – “you are not a star if you can’t shine for others.” Let’s shine for each other and share the light.”

At the end of the post, Ali announced the launching “Lightingale records” and said that through this endeavour; he would personally mentor, produce, record and showcase talent of young and upcoming artists.
He further explained that their goal is to bring to light at least 10 new artists this year and give people some great songs to cherish.
He also asked his fans and followers to share more ideas for his initiative, “If you have any ideas that can augment this venture, do share. Stay tuned.”

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Our Favorite Fashion Divas that have Evolved Over Time

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While reading the title, you must be thinking about the acting skills and how these ladies have made their name in the drama and film industry. But no, here we are talking about the fashion game of these actresses that have taken us all by surprise. Perking up their style statement and emerging as few of the finest actresses in terms of being glamorous and presentable, they have absolutely conquered the fashion world. 

These are our favorite Divas who have proved that working on oneself is never a selfish thing and this hard work can eventually help you in the long run.

 

Saboor Aly 

Starting from soaps and not so glamorous dramas, we never saw Saboor Aly dressing up as impressively as she does now. Probably, this is the social fashion awareness that some choose to pick and some don’t. And, we have to say that Saboor is doing quite well with her dress sense while earning a huge fan following at a great pace. She is one of those finest actresses who keep us hooked to their gram-game as something cool and happening just pops up out of nowhere anytime and any occasion.

 

Nausheen Shah 

Our fancy-pants; Nausheen Shah has instantly beefed up her fashion game and we cannot stop admiring her taste and style in whatever she wears. She has definitely come a long way. Also known for carrying bold statements just like in a recent awards show, her hairstyle was quite eccentric perfectly aligning with a blingy Hussain Rehar attire.

Sadia Ghaffar

Her vibrant tops, glowing face and quirky pants have got our attention and we, indisputably, give her the award of being the most stylish actress among the lot. This was never the scenario from the day she joined the Entertainment industry so, she came this far and has definitely grown into a woman who keeps herself up-to-date in every trend and fashion.

Iqra Aziz 

Our recent favorite bride, Iqra has polished herself over time and we love how effortlessly she carries every outfit in sheer grace and pizzazz. Recently, she has been appointed as the face of Al-Karam and this was all a result of gradual progress and immense effort she has put into building her powerful aura and strong-headed personality that beautifully harmonizes with her chic and classic sense of styling. 

Sonya Hussyn

 

If Sonya had a synonym, it would be the word “grace”. We love her for her impactful persona, the way she dresses up and the way she owns everything she wears with undying confidence. There are very few celebrities who have evolved to be steezy and sassy in a way that they know what they should actually wear. Unlike some who do not even know their body type. Sonya Hussyn proves that style is always within, you can improve with time but class remains constant.

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