“Can an artistic intervention truly bring about an unforeseen way of thinking, or it is more a matter of creating a sensation of “meaninglessness” that shows the absurdity of the situation? Can an artistic intervention translate social tensions into narratives that in turn intervene in the imaginary landscape of a place? Can an absurd act provoke a transgression that makes you abandon the standard assumptions on the sources of conflict? Can those kinds of artistic acts bring about the possibility of change? In any case, how can art remain politically significant without assuming a doctrinal standpoint or aspiring to become social activism? For the moment, I am exploring the following axiom: Sometimes doing something poetic can become political and sometimes doing something political can become poetic.”

Francis Alys

March 3, 2011


jihad’[1] for ‘utopia’[2]

Both contentious, this poses an interesting question, what might be worth musing over more? Jihad or Utopia?

The relationship obviously makes the latter much easier to understand. But to read them in their own particular newfound bubble creates a plausible intersection. This intersection is called an ‘art school’.

[1] A systematic series of mechanized or chemical operations and efforts that are performed in order to produce, manufacture or to arrive at something.

[2] A place or state of things where everything is as it can never be. No place.


February 23, 2011

“He initiated creation most initially and commenced it originally, without undergoing reflection, without making use of any experiment, without innovating any movement, and without experiencing any aspiration of mind. He allotted all things their times, put together their variations gave them their properties, and determined their features knowing them before creating them, realizing fully their limits and confines and appreciating their propensities and
When He created the openings of atmosphere, expanse of firmament and strata of winds, He flowed into it water whose waves were stormy and whose surges leapt one over the other. He loaded it on dashing wind and breaking typhoons, ordered them to shed it back (as rain), gave the wind control over the vigour of the rain, and acquainted it with its limitations. The wind blew under it while water flowed furiously over it. Then He created forth wind and made its movement sterile, perpetuated its position, intensified its motion and spread it far and wide. Then He ordered the wind to raise up deep waters and to intensify the waves of the oceans. So the wind churned it like the churning of curd and pushed it fiercely into the firmament throwing its front position on the rear and the stationary on the flowing till its level was raised and the surface was full of foam.

Then He raised the foam on to the open wind and vast firmament and made therefromthe seven skies and made the lower one as a stationary surge and the upper one as protective ceiling and a high edifice without any pole to support it or nail to hold it together. Then He decorated them with stars and the light of meteors and hung in it the shining sun and effulgent moon under the revolving sky, moving ceiling and rotating firmament.”

(Nahj-ul-balagha Sermon 1)

In performing an art student:

February 11, 2011

This particular student above everything else has to learn to be ‘sensitive’. Sensitivity now, comes in different packages. There is one that is quick to detect or respond to slight changes/signals or the others who get easily damaged or injured due to the slight change. Such are the states this student aspires to inculcate when at the institution.

If only this sensitivity were all this simple, the ones quick enough to detect are better off, but the ones learning the art of getting easily distressed are the true ones the institution should be proud to have made. There is a particular pattern the artist with the second definition of sensitivity explores. To be on the look out for any change is in itself an ordeal, then come the exaggerated emotions, and their display. The work that they make usually comes in very late in the day. The act or the presence of their emotions is more like the work in progress. The lingering on till right before the anticipated time for a completed piece and then producing something that is cleverly made minimally, (this minimalism should not be confused with something stripped to its essentials but more so the minimum time spent with the idea and the work) combined with the story that the artist has to share, adds the needed drama. It so happens that this story is most essential, the story seems to be sufficient without the piece of work but the work cannot seem to ‘work’ without its story.

These carefully crafted students are then handed over to the next institution with a set of guidelines. The guidelines usually are a handful of ideas that can be ordered out of them; solely the artists however craft the stories. These often include distressed ideas, which might or might not have anything to do with the one making them but can at times prove to be stimuli in distressing the audience as such. The work however has less of an impact but the story that has been personalized comes to the rescue and creates the particular traumatic effect this former art student has been taught. This is fairly commendable. It does emit the feelings one has to have while encountering it and it does so bring to our knowledge the slight change that has affected the artist and has now started affecting us (the audience).

The artist is no doubt successful but hands down to the institution.

-Many thanks to my subjects Ayesha Kamal, Mobeen Ansari and Xaineb Khan who survived the critical analysis for this blog entry the past two years (2009/10).

Contemporary art demands the artist to pause, stop the production, become passive and assemble our self to become viewers. Without intervening or making a comment, the artist is required, not to unlearn but learn. Modernists and the post modernists have exhausted the production of art and the role of artist to a degree that the saviour of the contemporary can only be the viewer. A viewer, who does not view art but views in order to make art. The structures of production are to be revised. For production once occupied itself in the death of the author and then the return of it, now it lies with the artist changing its position from the active producer to a passive one.

The dilemma the artist goes through in the modern world today is expressed in the form of reacting to the response of the ever-changing scenarios. The dialogue happens with the change by interventions, commentary, critique or solutions. This in turn manipulates the reactions the artist was first inspired to counter.



Kafka's desk








The reactions of the everyday have much to offer if only the artist became a silent observer.


April 8, 2010

“It lies upon the side of a hill, or rather a rising ground: its figure is almost square, for from the one side of it, which shoots up almost to the top of the hill, it runs down in a descent for two miles to the river Anider; but it is a little broader the other way that runs along by the bank of that river. The Anider rises about eighty miles above Amaurot, in a small spring at first, but other brooks falling into it, of which two are more considerable than the rest. As it runs by Amaurot, it is grown half a mile broad; but it still grows larger and larger, till after sixty miles course below it, it is lost in the ocean, between the town and the sea, and for some miles above the town, it ebbs and flows every six hours, with a strong current. The tide comes up for about thirty miles so full that there is nothing but salt water in the river, the fresh water being driven back with its force; and above that, for some miles, the water is brackish; but a little higher, as it runs by the town, it is quite fresh; and when the tide ebbs, it continues fresh all along to the sea. There is a bridge cast over the river, not of timber, but of fair stone, consisting of many stately arches; it lies at that part of the town which is farthest from the sea, so that ships without any hindrance lie all along the side of the town.”

April 7, 2010