Lala Rukh Ahmed




Gadani, desert, sky, ocean, and unbelievably blue, changing colours each time you turned to look at the sea. The rock that marked the tide and time. Waking and sleeping with the sound of the waves, and days slipping into nights. The night sky turning the sea phosphorescent, VASL became an experience enriched by the presence of 22 artists living and working together in great harmony.

This only hid the reality of what was in the ocean and just behind you if you turned around to see. The surreal landscape over which towered the great ships in the ship breaking yards, discharging oil and chemicals in the water, killing the fish, poisoning the ocean, bringing the environmental hazards into the lives of the fisher folk, and into the food chain.

‘Shrine’, an installation, was in response to the environmental disaster that Gadani is. Cleaning the beach every morning to collect the greasy substance that is washed ashore became a morning ritual. . The ‘shrine to profit’ is made from the black grease. And the ‘tree temple’ facing it is a motif borrowed from the farmer who has planted hundreds of trees along the hostile coast, protecting the young saplings from the winds.

The ‘Gadani’ drawings, of the ocean, the setting sun reflected on the water, and the horizon, a continuation of earlier works, became an opportunity to address my ongoing concerns and issues of culture and politics in praxis.Filming the passage of time and tide, from dawn to dusk, stationed on a rock from where I could not move. From breakfast to dinner, and morning coffee and tea breaks came to me on my vigil on the rock, along with cushion and conversation, reflecting the spirit of the workshop. Supporting and sharing time, space and work.

So the one collective work, ‘Love letters,’ were messages in bottles, representing each individual, his/her language and culture, a drawing or coded message, who had come to the workshop from different parts of Pakistan and the world.


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