Between Thinking, Seeing, Saying & Nothing

International Artists’ Residency

March 1 – April 6, 2015

with Eric Peter, Marco Pezzotto, Shaheen Jaffrani

& Fazal Rizvi (Writer in Residence)

This year opened for Vasl with the residency program Between Thinking, Seeing, Saying and Nothing, featuring three artists’ who came together at the Vasl Residence for 5 weeks. The resident artists explored Karachi and responded to fragments of the city in various mediums. Intrigued by the city’s ability to absorb conflicts and coalesce communities, Marco, Eric and Shaheen created works that reflected the social complexities of urban life in Karachi.

The residency showcased various artistic expressions such as performance, installations, mixed media and research based art works, emanating from individual perceptions and collective psyche. During their stay at Vasl, the artists and the writer in residence participated in Artshares at universities, ventured out on exploratory trips and commuted at art forums, artists, studios and universities.

Eric Peter from Netherlands was struck by the skills and ethnicities of multitude craftsman and artisans in Karachi. During his residency at Vasl, Eric recorded conversations with artisans and political leaders from the city and commented on the shared experiences of lives across borders and social classes. Eric focused on sociopolitical conflicts through a dialogue with different ethnicities in Karachi, represented through various local crafts in his work.

“Through investigative projects I question the very expectations, assumptions and habits we are accustomed to from a personal and associative point-of-view.”

Shaheen Jaffarani observed the continuous cycle of decay in the city and engaged with the visual possibilities that it presented to an artist. Having grown up in Karachi, Shaheen was familiar with paan stained walls and littered streets – yet as an artist she saw these forms of decay as marks of individuals in an anonymous city. She laid out a sheet of canvas on the street which was eventually trodden over by people and vehicles, accumulating marks of dirt and movement – “small actions that reflect a bigger picture: the urban culture.”

Marco Pezzotta gathered an assortment of objects that vacillated between familiar and unfamiliar and laid them out on a nylon chattai (prayer mat). Looking into the “visual records that produce an intermittent narration and show the craving for an historical truth,” Marco found that his collections of various objects brought together an archaeological display of the ordinary, paying tribute to Karachi. This “playground’ of knick knacks not only reflected the city’s history and it’s visual stories but also showed how connections can develop through art. 

Fazal Rizvi, the artist writer in resident, compiled a publication titled “Verba Volant, scripta manent” which is Latin for “spoken words fly away, written words remain.” He reflected on the resident artists’ processes which were permeated with Fazal’s own conversations with his mother. Intermingling abstracts of personal recordings with creative processes created an interesting written dialogue for the residency.

Artist Statement by Marco Pezzotto

Celebrate togetherness: imagine two stem glasses, golden-printed with the number 2000. They turned into archaeological evidences right as the sound of their midnight toast vanished. I gather visual records that produce an intermittent narration and show the craving for an historical truth. Even while constructing an autobiographical narrative, society structures history like a tale about itself, and it is as soon as a social system sees and recognizes its own existence for the first time that this tale gets determination. Togetherness within narration and economy, they were both struggles made in order to share a meaning, a value, and the meaning of a value, and also a way to guarantee heritages in generational renewals.

I tend to set conditions rather than lead anywhere. I focus on mutual dependency, so as a need for difference that is essential to get continuity and a shared version of facts. I imagine a work to be a primal fireplace with nothing but rocks, sticks and smoke, and all around fearful beings mutually protecting themselves.

Artist Statement by Eric Peter

The common thread in my work is the exploration of a larger understanding of life through the various parallel realities. I have developed a performance-based practice in which sociopolitical subjects are reconciled; mostly cultural and gender norms. A different context gives the possibility of new and other interpretations. Works can comprise installations, performances, text or video work. Through investigative projects I question the very expectations, assumptions and habits we are accustomed to from a personal and associative point-of-view.

“THE HUMAN HEART is a collection of various jewelry pieces on friendship, compassion and unity. The collection consists of simple and familiar symbols to invoke a sense of beloning, but also to comment on a particular feeling which seems to be lost. In the modern world where continue to be separated from each other and where egocentrism is favored over a sense of community, this jewelry collection is an attempt to connect people. A heart embracing another, two hands holding tight or a figure burning from the yearning for reconciliation. The body serves as exhibition space of the necklaces, bracelets and headpiece. Keeping it close to oneself rather than only being able to view it on the occasions of an exhibition.”

Artist Statement by Shaheen Jaffrani

Every soul leaves a mark, in this case literally. There is a comfort in discomfort, life in abandonment, presence in absence and intersection within the parallel realities. I work with the never-ending series of an act; the process of decay. Paan stains (peek, pichkari) act like drops of paints, like a reaction or expression towards the environment; or perhaps a social scenario? Exploring how people see this act as nothingness, a form of welcoming towards unacceptable scenes that surrounds us. Small actions that reflect a bigger picture: the urban culture. The fact that these marks are left or made by humans is what makes this more interesting which further extends my research. How the marks and excretion we’re surrounded by is a living proof of a mutual understanding; the contradictions I see here.

Moving past this, my art practice also evolved during this period and the experience has greatly opened my mind. My ideas are now more complex because I have learned how to sustain a logical creative understanding in an organized manner.  My work (I think) no longer has added “fluff” or “padding”. There is a better understanding of subtraction and addition in my practice.