Regional Green Dialogues

Taaza Tareen 9

April – May 2017

in collaboration with Henrich Boll Stiftung

with Arif Bahaduri, Arsalan Nasir, Baqer Ahmadi, Razin Rubin & Rida Zainab

‘Only art is capable of dismantling the repressive effects of a senile social system that continues to totter along the death line: to dismantle in order to build a social organism as a work of art.’

Joseph Beuys


The main objective of this project has been to overcome stalled political parameters of mutual distrust and enmity between the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan.  With two artists from Afghanistan and three from Pakistan, the Taaza Tareen residents have emphasized in their work how critical it is to involve the general public with art as these initiatives have the capacity to mobilize and transform society’s perspective on politics and social constraints. By developing the concept of Social Sculpture during the 1970’s, German artist Joseph Beuys established a very broad and political understanding of art. Art, in his regard should not be reduced to material artefacts that form a visible final “product” and be exhibited in galleries and museums. Through this understand of social sculpture, the five artists in residence have worked towards creating interactive pieces of art which are mindful and reflective, concentrating on new ways of thinking. During the period of this month long residency, the artists have developed their process throughout the city of Karachi at multiple locations, interacting with people from various economic and geographical backgrounds. The outcome from their residency has been nurtured and mentored through weekly sessions with Professor Shelley Sacks, Director of the Social Sculpture Unit at the Oxford Brookes University, U.K..

Installation by Baqer Ahmadi, Kabul

Today we live in the midst of multiple communication methods and with advancements in technology we are increasingly better at understanding how to fill the spaces between us and the rest of society. Despite this progress, we as humans still fail to overcome the barriers created by politics, economic disparities and the raging manipulations of the media. Unfortunately, we even tend to hold contempt and distrust for 21st century communication devices, rendering our own developments futile. In my artwork for this residency I have repeatedly reviewed my image in communicative spaces. I have found that is vital for us to consider our relationships with a space and its’ inhabitants,as the dynamics of space govern our interactions and mannerisms. By personifying characters like toys, technological images, and media and political images to review my own image, I have titled this series of work “Fake” as it is based on my notions of how physical deconstruction is related to poverty.  One of my primary concerns in addressing the lifestyles of people who live in poverty in Karachi is how deconstruction can covert the image of poverty. Dilapidated buildings and squatters are ever present in Karachi and I notified they were always occupied by people who struggle for a daily meal. Using domestic items and objects found in both wealthy and poor homes, I see these as tools through which I can communicate how the basic necessities of living are so similar and without seeing the exterior walls of a home, one cannot really guess the economic background of an individual.

Performance by Arif Bahaduri, Kabul

Having been introduced to the concept of Social Sculpture, I have been searching for particular places and materials to create my idea of a social game. After visiting various beautiful and historic places in Karachi, I encountered some people playing with kites. Kites have been used in both Afghanistan and Pakistan for entertainment and fun since a long time, and throughout the history of flying kites they have been used to carry messages in different ways. Hence, the kite transforms into a form of communication. My intention is to use kites as a form of free social communication. By covering them with medical band aids through the help of public participation, each kite carries a certain message and visual.

Performance/Installation by Razin Rubin, Karachi

I have continuously been hearing people in this country say that their stories have been altered by external forces and that their words are no longer theirs, rather, their stories have become somebody else’s. There was a man in Saddar whom I met during exploring this city who was scared of sharing his stories with me; although he let on that he had witnessed the partition of 1947 and knew multiple migratory families, he was reluctant to speak further. My work for this residency depicts such people whose stories have not been heard and whose words have been taken away without acknowledging the right person.

The microphones in my work portray both the person to whom which the story belongs to and the horn speakers are their source of spreading their stories to peoples around the city. The speakers also  give the participant the idea of not hearing their own voices clearly because they need to use the best quality speakers to make their voices be heard at a optimum level.

Artwork by Rida Zaneb, Lahore

‘If you look out the window, you’ve got to do something about it’ – Noam Chomsky

The point of staring out of a window is paradoxically not to find out what is going on, it is rather an exercise in discovering the contents of one’s own mind. Through my walks in the city I have been trying to look through people’s eyes and their perspectives. How do they feel when they look through their windows and what do they look for? Who are they watching and who watches them? My work started with this question ‘How do we feel when we look out of the window?’ I walked around the city of Karachi and gathered multiple answers from the residents in various locations. The work I have created is based on the idea of Social Sculpture and as there is an involvement of ordinary people participating in the creation of this work rather than being silent spectators.

The microphones in my work portray both the person to whom which the story belongs to and the horn speakers are their source of spreading their stories to peoples around the city. The speakers also  give the participant the idea of not hearing their own voices clearly because they need to use the best quality speakers to make their voices be heard at a optimum level.

Installation by Arsalan Nasir, Karachi

The beautiful and restless Karachi has such diversity that at times it seems like the city is in total chaos. But it isn`t. I am interested in the diversity of cultures, lifestyles and towns within this gigantic metropolis. For me, the possibilities to create Social Sculpture can be found in social gatherings and when I think about the largest and most diverse gathering spot in Karachi, I always end up at the sea! The Sea View beach is a focal point where we can witness one of the densest gatherings where people come from all over the country. I see people who have come to witness the mesmerizing face of Mother Nature and the coast becomes a thin borderline between nature and the man made. However if one goes to the sea of Karachi, there isn`t just a realization of the beautiful seascape – there is also the recognition of the immense sacrifices nature has to make to accommodate all the inhabitants of this huge city. We have continuously been dumping the waste of this city into the sea, which has created tragic consequences in the form of death and destruction of aquatic species that live in the ocean. My site to intervene in a social gathering is Sea View as I am interested in in creating a happy yet disturbing picture in a surrealistic visual at this site. Working with both organic and inorganic materials to dig deeper into this concern, I see this possibility to use the shore of the beach as my canvas and people as potential creative individuals who can start a dialogue for awareness about ecological concerns and our behavior towards it. 

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Taaza Tareen 9 – Regional Green Dialogues | Henrich Boll Stiftung

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