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Women’s voices need to be heard: Saulat Ajmal on curating art exhibition ‘Intimate Conversations’

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Intimate Conversations is a group exhibition by eight brilliant women artists rooted in the subcontinent and spread around the world being held from February 25 to March 10 at the Royaat Art Gallery in Lahore.

The exhibition will feature seven new paintings, eight sculptures and nineteen works on paper which explore themes of love, life, metaphors of home and being a woman in today’s world, through abstractions of the human body and evocations of sacred iconography.

With eight artists speaking of their experiences of life and the process of making, the works defy a broad stroke social construct or an umbrella term to describe them all. The works stand for their individuality and yet they all speak to each other on a level that’s deeply personal. They are as similar to each other as the abstract expressionists’ works in their quest for making art that comes from within and just as different in their appearance.

The curator Saulat Ajmal, speaks exclusively to Pakistan Today regarding the artwork.

-Tell us about your background in arts, Saulat.

I’m an artist, educator, curator and writer trained in all matters of the arts from Hunter College in New York and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond VA. I’ve been working in this field for over a decade and a half in the US and have recently moved back to Pakistan.

I’m currently a permanent faculty at National College of Arts.

-You are an artist yourself, how did you venture into curating artworks?

Being in the creative field means that you constantly are looking at other artists that are part of the beauty of this field.

I have been teaching and curating shows in the US as well, but to move back and continue to create opportunities for artists to come together and show work here, to see a selection of some brilliant artists under one roof, is a win-win situation for me. I love to see what artists are constantly up to. Going into their studios is like being invited into peoples most sacred places. Talking about their works and bringing out what I choose to see as a collection that speaks to me, is the most intriguing element of curation for me. When you’re passionate about the arts this just makes sense in every way.

-Tell us about ‘Intimate Conversations’ and its relevance/relation to our country’s context. 

“Intimate Conversations” was inspired by a reading I always refer my students to. “The Laugh of the Medusa” by Helene Cixous. Cixous is a French philosopher, feminist writer and literary critic who talks about “écriture feminine” as the concept of women writing their own stories. If they don’t write them they will get erased from history and only be known through someone else’s lens, which is the male lens more often than not.

This is a very crucial concept for any society but especially in a society like ours, where women are juggling many hats and accomplishing feats and yet they are constantly being pigeonholed into stereotypes of the submissive gender.

-What mediums have the participating artists used in their artworks? 

There are paintings on wooden panels and canvas, works on paper and wasli, prints, sculptures made of resin and cut up cartons of alcohol and other found material.

-How is it that all participating artists happen to be women? 

This show is gender specific but I choose to work with women not to speak of their uniformity as a specific gender but rather to highlight their differences in their approach to life and art making. Life and art are not separable and I have specifically chosen artists that share a passion to express their innermost concerns of being alive. It takes courage to speak of your core concerns and women’s voices need to be heard. Being from a certain gender will always shape your experiences in life and inform your work but gender is never the only thing that defines you as a person. It’s your individuality that trumps all and that is what the show explores through these eight women artists.

I believe in the power of storytelling. When you spend time with someone’s work you get to know a lot about them and it’s always a pleasure to know what concerns artists are tackling and how they choose to portray them in their works. To get to see works by eight brilliant women at different points in their careers, juggling multiple hats and hopping continents, talking about their lives in the most beautiful visual ways, why would I not want to make those conversations seen and heard?

I tend to work with themes when I think of curating shows and this one stems from a very dear place for me that speaks to my own experiences as a woman, an artist, curator and an educator.

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Entertainment

Lock-down is temporary but Father’s day is permanent

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He is the person who started working hard even before your birth to give you a safe space full of warmth and comfort. It is rightfully said that no person in this world would be happy to see you more successful than him except for your father.
A father is the first superhero in a child’s life, the one he\she would always look up to, for love guidance, goals and unlimited demands.

Since most of the major events are being celebrated in a situation of complete lockdown in the country, we have got some sweet and doable ideas to surprise your dads on this Father’s Day.

Throw A Lunch Party


Isn’t it true that most of the dads are foodies and they can never say no to a dish made by their kids? On this special day, make his favorite dishes. Pamper him the whole day and do not forget to prepare something sweet for the evening tea.

Origami Nuts In Collaboration With OvenCraft


Yummy in his tummy!!! Origami Nuts has designed this cute basket of sweet banana crumble bread in collaboration with Oven craft. The appearance is cute and is definitely a perfect pick to show love and dedication on this special day to your fathers.

Kitchen Kahani’s Breakfast

Almost every dad is a nihari lover and especially in this lockdown when we cannot go and dine out, Kitchen Kahani is offering  “Nashta with Abbu”. We are already melting at the name. You can order home-cooked beef Nihari to surprise your Abbus with a scrumptious desi nashta.

Customized Basket By Happy String

If your abba loves to eat junk, this can be an economical and a fancy present for him. Get his favorite chocolates and other edibles packed in a beautifully wrapped basket and brighten up your father’s mood with something sweet and salty.
Father’s Day DIY Cookie Kit


For young fathers, to have an interactive activity with small kids, Delish is offering customized DIY Cookie kits where you can make your own cookies with your kids while sitting at your home. Isn’t it a great yet adorably creative idea?

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Features

Imdaad- A Dire Necessity in this Global Pandemic

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Pakistan, as we know it, has a well-established reputation of being one of the most charitable nations. Having to face several natural disasters and a debilitating disease-induced economic crisis over the span of a year has greatly fueled our philanthropic efforts.

As we reflect upon the ongoing destruction being caused by the spread of the Coronavirus, our hearts are left shattered while our minds are perplexed.

The heart-rending reality kicks in: even if the virus doesn’t end more lives, hunger caused by unemployment surely will.

Meet Manahil Naveed, a 17-year-old who embarked on a journey to give back to the needy by founding her own charitable organization by the name of Imdaad.

Imdaad is a non-profit organization working against the clock to provide food and hygiene packages to families living beneath the poverty line in Lahore. So far, their team has managed to deliver these packages to more than 50 families in need. As they work solely off donations, the people of Pakistan have generously extended their hands to help Imdaad’s cause.

This is what she has to say:

“Tuning into the news every day and witnessing the number of cases rapidly grow along with the effects of this growth managed to create this undying feeling of sadness within me. Witnessing small businesses shutting down, I couldn’t help but be concerned about how the poverty-struck families of daily wage laborers would manage to find their next meal.”

While many of us want to help the needy during this pandemic, the majority are rightfully afraid to be in close proximity to others.

This is where Team Imdaad steps in. They bridge the gap between the generosity of potential donors and their fear of catching the virus by being around large groups of donees.

Using the best protective gear out there, Imdaad’s team buys and packages ration bags to ultimately be handed to the destitute, all while ensuring that each recipient is truly in need by asking trustworthy sources such as local heads and representatives of other NGOs.

We will end this piece on a little saying Manahil has used as Imdaad’s slogan: “Hamdardi Imaan hai.”

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Entertainment

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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