Artist panel (by invitation only): Wednesday, May 1st, 6pm, moderated by Steve Coll, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of ‘Ghost Wars’ and ‘The Bin Ladens’. Steve is an expert on US-Pakistan relations and was recently appointed as the dean of the Journalism School at Columbia University.
Ilham is pleased to announce its inaugural exhibition featuring four young emerging contemporary artists from Pakistan, Ghulam Hussain, Romessa Khan, Sana Kazi and Mariam Hanif. Although Pakistan frequently makes the headlines for stories related to extremism and terrorism, the country’s rich civil discourse and vibrant culture often go unnoticed. This exhibition aims to question the international narrative of Pakistan using art as a medium to give voice to the country’s youth and dispel the myths about their country’s image among Western audiences. The show provides a timely window into modern Pakistani society where, given the country’s fractious relationship with the U.S., the youth is increasingly using art to stir discussion on social and political issues. The month of May, when the artists will be in New York, is a historic time for Pakistan, marking fresh elections after the first time that a democratic government in a country prone to military coups has completed its five-year term.
The title “In Transit” refers to the individual’s reaction to a world that seems to be in constant flux, a struggle that those living in Pakistan share with the rest of the world. It reflects our journey through life, as we begin from the innocence of birth, moving forward to discover the complexity of relationships, need for absolute truths and the desire to integrate life and death. “In Transit” is a rational attempt to visualize the world we don’t see by tracing the path of human consciousness over time.
The artists present an eclectic collection of viewpoints representing the transition of consciousness. Ghulam Hussain’s works take us back to our childhood memories, to find meaning in simplicity. Hussain constructs his images as an illusion of pattern weaved through paper as illustrated in “Flight.” Going back to his roots in Pakistan’s province of Sindh, he challenges the notion of high art by integrating elements of low-craft, such as weaving and brick building, with the traditional miniature style of painting. Romessa Khan references ideas of alternative realities, creating a dynamic space of possibilities and impossibilities, to capture the essence of human relationships. Her weave-like structures are metaphors for the individual, with each line representing unanswered questions, collectively creating a pensive and hallucinogenic sense of mystery.
Sana Kazi explores the idea of collective consciousness as humans and societies mature. She proceeds like a skeptic, exploring the concept of the alter ego, questioning whether it is possible to know anything with certainty. Starting with a collection of photographs, she brings her subjects to life by rendering their images using nontraditional materials – ash, brick powder, sawdust and white cement – that work together to articulate her fascination with classical art. Sensations are evoked through highly diffused grey images, leading one’s perception of these representations into pure intuitive conceptions of the subject. Finally, Mariam Hanif engages with art for reasons that many engage with the spiritual – to explore concepts of death, loss and rebirth. She creates a unique relationship with space, nature and the elements by exploring the meaning that is produced by the question of passing time and approaching death. The end result shows Mariam’s fascination with the integration of all things, of the flowing movement that draws all creation into its eternal continuum.
The exhibition will take place in Chelsea, at a space provided by chashama, an acclaim NYC-based arts non-profit. chashama, which means “to have vision” in Farsi, reclaims unused properties and transforms them into creative work and presentation spaces. Landowners donate temporarily vacant properties that chashama recycles into creative hubs, and grants to artists, organizations, and youth arts programs without any cost or at highly subsidized rates.
Artist Bios: http://ilhamart.org/artists
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