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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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Meesha Shafi releases HOT MANGO CHUTNEY SAUCE

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A Canadian Pakistani Artist, a cultural and feminist icon and a multidisciplinary artist, has released her latest single, Hot Mango Chutney Sauce. Written and performed by Shafi herself, Hot Mango Chutney Sauce is an electro pop dance composition with an unabashedly original desi sound.

 

While the mood of the song is joyful, it cleverly employs irony and sarcasm to question an unfortunate yet comic facet of urban Pakistani society: the rampant obsession with consumerism and the inability to understand ourselves beyond the facade of “wealth” or “success” we put up in social settings. The South Asian artist celebrates her roots and explores why we express our identities by acquiring and flaunting material possessions, instead of nurturing our values and vocalizing principles we believe in.

 

“The idea of writing this song came out of a period of reflection on the rat race we often find ourselves in, where much of the focus is on what people own instead of who they are. It’s a pitfall that is particularly hard to avoid in an industry literally called showbiz, so coming to this realization has been fascinating” said Meesha Shafi.

 

Blending English, Urdu and Punjabi, Meesha speaks colloquially and playfully integrates quintessentially Pakistani idioms and tongue-twisters in her lyrics. “Ultimately, the song pokes fun at our collective identity crisis, which is only worsened by our colonial hangover as many of us have begun to realize. Even within the race, we’ve come to attach a higher value to aspects of pop culture that have no roots in Pakistan or the wider South Asian community. So whether it was cultural references in the lyrics or the visual translation of the track into a music video, I aspired to create something uniquely us – desi and proud”, said Meesha Shafi.

 

Abdullah Siddiqui, who produced the song said: “The themes Meesha was working with on this song really resonated with me because I’ve personally begun to feel like culturally there’s an obsession with keeping up appearances, and sacrificing authenticity in the process. The lyrics really excited me and amused me, especially because they are in such stark contrast to the kind of introspective and sombre work Meesha has been known for, but I’m so excited that people finally get to see this side of her. I had the time of my life producing this track to reflect the spirit in which Meesha wrote it; brash, maximalist, super-charged and unapologetically fun. We tried to create a representation of South Asian motifs that felt completely fresh yet authentic, and I really hope that comes across.”

 

The much-awaited music video has been co-directed by Meesha Shafi and Awais Gohar. The art direction was led by Meesha Shafi and Hashim Ali. The music video stars both Meesha Shafi and Abdullah Siddiqui along with Eman Suleman, Zara Peerzada, Baemisaal and Rubab Ali. To make things even more exciting, the anonymous Instagram sensation known only by her handle ‘Swineryy’ also features on the music video as one of her most popular avatars.

 

The music video for Hot Mango Chutney Sauce can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/aQ2oiqyEzCE.
The song is now available on all major streaming platforms.

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Filmwala Pictures Is Back With a Historic Drama Masterpiece Khel Khel Mein

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The dynamic duo of Pakistani film industry, Nabeel Qureshi & Fizza Ali Meerza, is all set to hit Pakistani Cinemas, yet again with their upcoming film ‘Khel Khel Mein’.

The multi starrer Feature Film will have Sajal Ali and Bilal Abbas in lead roles, along with veterans Javed Sheikh, Samina Ahmed, Marina Khan & Manzar Sehbai. The music of the film is composed by the maestros including Shani Arshad, Shuja Haider & Asrar Shah. This heart-warming drama depicting a youthful take on historic events, will be releasing in cinemas very soon.

The motion poster of the KKM looks promising and fans are eagerly waiting to witness another brilliant piece from the enthusiastic and talented pair, who always tries to give something new in their projects.  The lead cast, Sajal Ali and Bilal Abbas Khan has worked together before in television drama serial ‘O Rangreza’. This is their first feature film together.  

Fizza Ali Meerza, CEO Filmwala Pictures says about her new venture, “Khel Khel Mein is our take on telling history in a fresh and engaging way to the youth so that it can be learned from and remembered. We hope the viewers will resonate with the story and come out of the theaters feeling more entertained & informed.”

The director of Khel Khel Mein Nabeel Qureshi expressed his delight as, “We are very excited to bring Khel Khel Mein to the screens; the entire team has worked immensely hard to create the film and, we hope that people will love it and learn from it.”

About Filmwala Pictures

Filmwala Pictures is a Pakistani Film Production Company based in Karachi founded by Fizza Ali Meerza. The production house has some of the biggest Pakistani hits under its banner including; Na Maloom Afraad, Actor in Law, Na Maloom Afraad 2 & Load Wedding along with the upcoming film Quaid e Azam Zindabad.

Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kkmthefilm/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/khelkhelmein2021/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/khel_khel_mein

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/khelkhelmein

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Junaid Khan Highlights A Grave Issue Of Society In His Latest Video

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When it comes to Pakistani performers, who can both act and sing, Junaid Khan comes into mind so quickly. We have witnessed his acting skills recently in dramas like Kashf, Muhabbatein Chahtien and Khuda Aur Muhabbat but his first love music, with which he stared his career as Call band, recurs so often. 

Junaid Khan has released a single Taqdeer this eid, which unlike a usual happy song comes out on eids, highlights the grave issue of violence, especially domestic violence which is taking place in almost every household, every class in one way or another. According to singer this video is dedicated to all the victims that have gone through and keep going through all forms of abuse.

About the song and video, Khan pours his heart out, “What I am presenting to the world is not just a song but an ocean of immense emotions. A very grave issue that I lose sleep over.”

The Nishaan singer further says, “When I see and hear abuse, suffering and pain; it takes me into a very dark space. The evil that is spreading so fast in our own society and all over the world, has suffered humanity in the hands of murderers, rapists, abusers and the list just goes on.”

How someone has to suffer in the hands of an oppressor who only knows how to control and torture another human being, he adds.

The Taqdeer is written and composed by Junaid Khan while the video is directed by As-haar Azmat featuring Talat Mahfooz Butt, Shahreen Iftikhar, As-haar Azmat along with Junaid Khan as lead. The track has a grunge-rock feel in it as the video is shot in a dark background to depict the gloom and pain of the theme. Junaid has proved both his singing and acting skills in this five and half minute’s video which carries a powerful message through a conceptual art. 

According to the singer, the video emphasizes how the Power, control, money and greed can destroy generations but the message that he wants to send across to the world through this song is with bad comes good and with suffering comes ease and that karma will come around.

Elaborating more about the video, Khan says, “The oppressors are so strong and blinded by their own motives that are larger than other human lives. And there comes a point when the oppressed knows nothing better than accepting this painful life as fate. Taqdeer! And on this very notion my song, my voice and my emotions came to life in the form of this song.”

It is true that cases of domestic violence take place every day. Some get swept under the carpet while some come out in the open. The authorities must need to give importance to every violent act taking place anywhere in the country.  

According to a report published by Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO) in March 20201, The cases of violence against women and rape in Pakistan were doubled in the last six months of 2020 as compared to the first six months of the year. According to official data analysis, domestic violence (1,422 cases) and violence against women (9,401 cases), had high occurrence throughout country.

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