Non-understandable Art and How to Understand it

Vasl Artists’ Association’s Podcast for 3 137 Collective

April 4, 2019

Project Rhodiola

Podcast summary: An art collector and artists having drinks together: During this conversation they explore the limitations and possibilities of contemporary Pakistani art through the lens of Vasl Artists’ Association programs and experiences. Using satire, the focus of this podcast lies on the production and consumption of art, in the context of various social and psychological power structures. 

Listen to the podcast

Pretty paintings | Episode 1

The term non-profit always made Champa giggle | Episode 2

Why was the performance art invented? The collector of intellect | Episode 3

Why are children important they don’t have any money of their own | Episode 4

The psychological impact of rickshaws on the elite mindset | Episode 5

I’m a happy person I collect happy art | Episode 6

Diamonds and a brilliant mind | Episode 7

For the Cookies Category in Rhodiola, Vasl Artists’ Association presents a Radio Podcast featuring Champa (Emaan Mahmud), Numair Abbasi as narrator, Hira Khan & Halima (Vasl team). The show is set in between a hypothetical situation of a fundraising dinner party where Vasl team members meet Champa, a socialite who supports art but at times finds it challenging to understand contemporary art practices, and talks about their programs over drinks.
Cookies, a section in Rhodiola hosts radio shows by artist-run spaces, collectives, and other professionals reflecting on sustainability and maintenance in their practices. Collaborators include: Enterprise Projects (artist-run space, Greece), Vasl   (artists’ association, Pakistan), New Media Society (project space/archive/library,Iran), Apart Collective (art collective, Slovenia), Metasitu (art collective/current Alserkal Residency Residents), Daphne Dragona (media theorist, Greece), Riwaq (architects, Palestine), Madhursee Dutta (filmmaker, India), Bedouin in Furs (filmmaker, UAE), Nima Nabavi (artist, UAE).

Rhodiola unravels through radio shows, performances, screenings, and community activities. It runs sporadically and its tempo varies, sometimes operating as an amplifier and sometimes as ambiance. It provokes a hybrid form of communication, inspired by radio frequencies, and proposes five Waves—different conceptual units which function as ways of transmission and connectivity. Every wave represents a communication tool between participants, as well as a guide for audiences.

For six weeks, Rhodiola will host temporary gatherings, a radio booth, an exhibition space, and screenings, and challenges ordinary perceptions of domestic life and public affairs, offering a place for moments of active pause. Visitors are encouraged to tune in to different ideas and concepts and to co-exist with the space, the waves, the producers, the invited guests, and the audience.

Rhodiola is the first commission under Alserkal Avenue’s not-for-profit Alserkal Residency. Rhodiola is curated by Athens-based collective 3 137. The programme-based commission ‘Rhodiola’ is a conversation piece and will serve as an intervention in Nadi Al Quoz, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai—an informal group portrait of the participants, the visitors, and the hosts.

Vasl Team:

Halima Sadia is a graphic designer with an independent freelance practice since 2014. She graduated with bachelors in communication design from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. Her prominent projects include branding of the I AM KARACHI campaign & events in 2015, art direction& graphic design of the Karachi Biennale 2017 and design & execution of the Children’s Section of National History Museum by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan. Halima works as the Creative Manager at Vasl Artists’ Association.

Hira Khan is a practicing visual artist. She completed her bachelors in Fine Art in 2015 from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Karachi. Khan primarily works with sculpture, citing an avid inclination for experiments in materiality and form as her guiding forces. Concerns related to feminism, self-empowerment, ideas of closure, and the language and poetry behind engagement over socio-political issues, with echoes of confessional art, frequently feature in her practice. Hira has displayed her work in multiple shows at various galleries and has been a resident artist at the Hollows Art space, New York. She currently works as a Project Coordinator at Vasl Artists’ Association.

Guest speakers

Emaan Mahmud (as ‘Champa’), completed her Bachelors in Fine Art from Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Karachi, in 2008. Focusing on the consumption and production of contemporary art, Mahmud’s work is a satirical take on social hierarchies and power structures that exist within contemporary Pakistani society. Through the use of fictional characters and fictional publications, she explores the limitations and the possibilities of contemporary Pakistani art. Her work has been exhibited, and she has performed at various notable national and international platforms. Currently,she is also working as a Lecturer at Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture.

Shah Numair Ahmed Abbasi (as the narrator), lives and works in Karachi. He completed his BFA with a distinction from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in 2014 where he specialised in sculpture and photography. He currently practices as an artist, photographer, and freelance writer. Abbasi was the resident artist for Gasworks Pakistan Residency 2018 in London. Recent exhibitions include Microcosm 2, Gandhara-AAN, Karachi; I have to tell you a story, Sanat Gallery, Karachi; The Third Muslim, SOMArts Cultural Center (all 2018); Stretching Skin, Taseer Gallery, Lahore; The Thread Unraveled, VM Gallery, Karachi (both 2017); Excerpts, Koel Gallery, Karachi; and Ibtidaa, Studio Seven, Karachi (both 2016).

*Champa (Character) A brilliant and beautiful art collector and socially conscious socialite. Champa is also the Co-founder of the Institute of Culture. She is the wife of a very rich man. Date of birth – unknown.