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.
4 Facebook Groups with Great Initiatives that Serve Significant Purposes
Old were the days when a review was not a “thing” and it was extremely difficult to get information about anything be it travel, food, medical issues or any problem related to everyday life. It was not common to have a forum where people would share their experiences directly with the public. Reading first-hand experiences was rare and forums like Quora and Yahoo Answers were considered the only reliable sources.
Now, everything is available on the internet and is just a click away. But, should we rely on such sources to be authentic and true? It depends and varies from source to source. It also depends on who moderates the source and how.
When the trend of having groups on Facebook started, people only used it for fun, to gather at a place to talk and share jokes. At that time, a few were trying to utilize this source for a meaningful purpose and those people gave birth to some amazing groups that, now, have a huge following and are considered reliable sources for any information related to the subject matter of the group.
Now groups have become a popular and the safest space for like-minded people to congregate and discuss specific stuff- from hobbies to pets and celebrities.
If you are still living in the stone age or looking for answers to your riddles related to food, travel, pets, allergies, mental health, etc., these are the groups that are at your service with a meaningful purpose and a great initiative to help the masses through a direct communication and dissemination of information through various posts.
Foodies ‘R U
Created in 2013, now this group has over 95k followers. This is the place where you will find reviews about any restaurant. You name it and people will share their experiences. If you are a foodie, this is surely going to be your favorite group as it has all the solutions to deal with your appetite. Not only the masses, but this has also helped a lot of restaurateurs and home-based chefs with their businesses.
The founder of the group, Asad Sheikh says “I started this group 6 years ago for one reason only and that’s the passion for food. I just want to tell and guide people on what’s good out there to try and what’s good that our country has to offer. I don’t write bad reviews of any kind but that doesn’t mean that I have not had my share of bad food. Always try to highlight the good while telling owners of the restaurant about things that need improvement.
We all are ambassadors of our city or country and others who see our posts or reviews create an image of where we are from. Over the years Foodies ‘R Us has helped many people living out of Siri or out of country to pick the trees when they visit Lahore Karachi or even Islamabad. The same passion was translated into encouraging home-based talent to post as much as they can and later encouraging them to turn this talent into a business.
Many small businesses have blossomed from this platform and we later encouraged them further to be part of our Coke Food Festival, giving them a face to face experience with their consumers.
We have never charged anyone to advertise on our platform and that’s the reason for the success of many small businesses.”
Soul Sisters Pakistan
This group is home to 212K women who interact and share their issues and experiences related to health, relationships, feminism, networking, their moments of happiness, moments of suffering or any piece of advice related to the ongoing discussion. Not only this, through the group, women were able to find their long lost friends, online jobs, solutions to their problems and a lot more. This has become a safe place for them to talk about stuff they do not normally share publicly or are afraid to talk about. Anonymous posts have become the new trend to send your message across.
“In a culture where women are often silenced and their issues trivialized, I felt that we needed a space and people to talk to, other than their immediate family and friends; a space where we could give unbiased advice as a third person, for each other’s problems and a space where we could come together to share our stories, experienced and inspire each other.
And so in August 2013, Soul Sisters Pakistan was formed, and within months we were getting scores of requests to join the group as the concept of a safe space like this wasn’t so common back then! From discussing taboos to breaking stereotypes to providing legal aid and emotional support – the community has really made a mark and become a household name. It is also one of the 115 most impactful communities in the world, recognized, supported and trained by Facebook itself!- Kanwal Ahmed (the Founder)
The Travel Diary
Earlier, it was extremely difficult to know about the experiences of people who travel. Now, you just have to post a query and hundreds will be there to assist you or guide you about a particular thing, food place, culture or about people of a certain country. All in all, this group is a complete package to know about anything related to a country. Founded in 2016 with more than 72K members, this group is a query-home for all travel enthusiasts.
Mishaal Hashmi, the founder of the group says, “Traveling is something that is an innate part of me. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to travel, be exposed to cultures and people. As an adult, I’m even more fortunate to be able to share my passion with like-minded individuals, who share a similar passion. The idea to create the Travel Diary arose from my desire to share my travel experiences as well as gain wisdom from the experiences of others. Never in my dreams had I imagined my passion to take on such a gigantic form and for a forum such as The Travel Diary to exist is a humbling experience and a dream come true.”
Soul Brothers Pakistan
Even though most of the posts are light-heart humor and user-generated content; the group generally talks about various topics including networking, recruitment, and counseling. Similarly, it talks about issues that surround the men’s ecosystem i.e. relationship, health, masculinity, and mental state. Moreover, It discusses these issues in depth through live talk sessions also known as #SBPGuyTalk, where group members from all walks of life come and discuss issues varying from Depression, Suicide, legal affairs, and health-related topics. Their popular segment #AnonymousSoulBrother is also widely used by members who seek suggestions and valuable insights on a variety of topics.
“We identified a need where we could create a crowd-sourced platform for men which would offer a healthy support system for Pakistani brothers here and abroad.” – Danish Javed (Co-Founder)
Five Things We Loved about Strings’ Latest Track ‘Hum Aaye’
Iconic pop rock band Strings is an integral part of the fabric of Pakistan’s music scene. Over the course of the last three decades, Strings has established itself as one of the most massively followed bands that has produced one superb song after the other. The band’s songs range from soulful to heartfelt, rustic to nostalgic as well as earthy and contemporary. But it goes without saying that the band, which comprises of the dynamic duo of Faisal Kapadia and Bilal Maqsood, has aced the genre of pop rock music.
It’s latest offering ‘HUM AAYE’, a foot tapping, energetic number, was recently unveiled by the band, to add to their latest music album ‘30’. They performed it live at the grand finale of Pepsi Battle of the Bands and sent the audience into a musical frenzy. We loved the track, but let’s narrow it down to five things that stood out for us above everything else:
- Electrifying Music: The first thing is the blaring symphony of musical instruments that breathe life into the song. Among these, Bilal Maqsood and Syed Adeel Ali’s electrifying notes on the guitar paired with Aahad Nayani’s beats on the drum outshine everything else.
- Vocals: You can’t write about a song without talking about the vocals. We are trying to think of the last time Faisal Kapadia disappointed us with a song and we know the man can do no wrong when it comes to his music. He lends his deep, baritone voice to the track and infuses it with an energetic, passionate vibe that makes it an instant favorite. You can’t help but play it on repeat until you can sing along to the song. That’s how you know a song works: it grows on you and you can’t stop listening to it. Hum Aaye is one such song.
- Inspiring Lyrics: The lyrics are the soul of a song; without the soul, a song can easily crumple on the ground. Luckily, this isn’t the case with Hum Aaye. The song talks about the energy and with which one must face whatever life throws at us. The song is about announcing your arrival in the face of challenges, difficulties and the adversities of life, and in conquering it all. It’s a song that fills you with fervor and charges you up with the zeal that you didn’t know you had in you. This can probably help you shed a few pounds while you are working out 😉
- Rocking Appearances: The styling for the song and the way it has been presented on the stage has true pop rock stardom painted all over it. Both Maqsood and Kapadia along with their band members portray their readiness to take on the world, thanks to their aviator glasses and their devil-may-care attitude.
- Onstage Performance: The performance is befitting the vibe of the song. It’s loud without being noisy, bright but not blinding and full of expression without being in your face. It compels the audience and the viewers like to groove to the beat and tap their feet to the song
Hum Aaye is yet another remarkable addition to Strings’ sprawling resume that has one memorable song after the other. Listen to it, add it to your playlists and watch as it becomes one of your favorite songs of the season.
An Informal Colloquy with Wahaj Ali
After spilling his magic in Haiwan, Wahaj Ali is all set for new and exciting roles. We sat with him to talk about his career, daily routine, his likes and dislikes and many more that you would love to know.
This is what we grabbed from a small meeting.
Q.1. Tell us how it all started.
Ans. My career wasn’t planned, nor was it accidental – it was actually quite sudden. I worked at the theater before as a hobby, and from that I got an opportunity to work on television – that’s where it all started from.
Q.2. Peeking into Wahaj`s daily routine – what does it comprise of?
Ans. Well, it depends! If I am not shooting for a project, I spend time at home with my daughter, and teasing my wife and mother. I am not a very active guy, so when I am not shooting, I am super lazy and I spend most of my time in bed. However, when I have a shoot, my work day starts from 9 am and continues on till 11 pm, and that’s how hectic it becomes. There are lots and lots of scenes that we have to record, and when I am back home, I’m usually too exhausted to socialize much. I’m not a very social person anyway – instead of going to parties, I would rather go and spend quality time with the three ladies in my life: my wife, mother and daughter.
Q.3. What kind of a person is Wahaj?
Ans. Wahaj is vulnerable, but he is indestructible.
Q.4. Did you always intend to get into this industry or you had other plans as well?
Ans. As I said earlier, this was never the plan. I had other things in mind, but this is what life has brought me to, and I am loving it. Life is risky, but it is calculated, and in the face of it taking surprising turns, we should plan out things to achieve targets and keep ourselves motivated to succeed at whatever we end up doing.
Q.5. Other than Haiwan, have you done any emotionally challenging drama? Your views about child abuse – what made you take up that project? Was it the subject matter or you just took it without any reason?
Ans. For that I will be very honest: it was a selfish decision to opt for Haiwan. The cast and the director was the major reason why I signed up for it, as they were experienced and I got to learn a lot from them. However, the fact that the drama is based on an emotional social issue was definitely a plus point, as the script was really intriguing.
Q.6. Who has been your favorite co-star so far?
Ans. For me every co-star is my favorite, since I have had a good working relationship with all of them and I had the chance to learn from them as well.
Q.7. Who has been the most difficult person to work with?
Ans. I think no person is difficult to work with. It’s just a lack of understanding that results in such friction, and I usually make sure I develop that understanding on set and off set if required.
Q.8. Any project from the past that you would love to be a part of?
Ans. What I think is that whatever is written for you comes your way, and if you weren’t a part of something, it probably was for the better. Your focus should always be on giving your best to whatever you have committed to do, instead of worrying about anyone else’s work.
Q.9. Any project you regret saying no to?
Ans. Not really. I don’t regret when I say no. it’s simple – when I take a decision, I think about it thoroughly before I decide on it, and once I’ve made up my mind, there’s no turning back, and no regrets.
Q.10. Any project that you shouldn’t have done?
Ans. There are a few projects which didn’t completely resonate with me, yet I did them. However, I don’t want to name them, and I now take them simply as a part of the learning process.
Q.11. What kind of projects you would like to work on? And most importantly, what is lacking in the drama industry?
Ans. I want to be part of those projects with which I can inspire and educate people. It is crucial for me to use my work to get a valuable message across. It has been noticed that as the number of dramas or actors are increasing in the industry, the quality of work has been decreasing, and I feel quality comes first. We have to maintain the quality irrespective of anything else. Teamwork is also something that our industry can work on.
Q.12. Are you ready to slide into movies any time soon?
Ans. I’m not prepared for movies yet, however it can be something I can look forward to sometime in the future maybe.
Q.13. Tell us about your future projects?
Ans. There are a couple of projects that are in the pipeline, and one of them is on child abuse which is under production currently. Another one is also in the works that will surely surprise you all!
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