Devi Art Foundation
Not only are guns, barricades and armoured vehicles seen regularly on every roadside, but most buildings – important public and private establishments such as offices, hospitals, courts, universities and colleges, places that used to be open to the general public – are now heavily guarded by armed personnel and protected with sandbags, brick walls and barbed wires.
The scheme of putting two not-so-remarkable products from our surroundings (AK 47 and medical instruments) enriches the formal impact and leads to more than one understanding of the piece. The larger-than-life scale of the work and the shifting views – through combinations of various components invite the viewer and transform him/her from a spectator to a participant (intruder).
These pictures could be images of Quaid-e-Azam (As he was revered to in Pakistan) impersonators, to the extent that they resemble each other. In fact, their job is not to represent the man at all, but simply to act as a sign for a figure that is presumed to have lived, died and appeared in a certain way – and these images vary as much as eleven different hand writings might, when writing ‘Jinnah’.
Mahbub Shah’s reversal of words is an artistic mirror, the board drawn with charcoal, continues a long tradition of engagements with the ‘knowingness’ of the contemporary spectator, who sees things (ideally) from the artist’s point of view. This thread in art history, which Shah engages with repeatedly, stems from the philosophical revolutions of the 19th and early 20th centuries, which consistently attempted to disclose the unconscious aspects of art as well as the human mind, morality or the economy.
The brick forms the foundation of many built structures around the world. Together with a multitude of other units, the brick symbolizes a solid and enduring space. Its might and fortitude sustains entire buildings and the people that occupy them. Noor Ali Chagani captures these qualities represented by a brick to serve as a metaphor for traits that are expected in men in Pakistani society.
The intrusion of religious authority in the art world is directly portrayed in this work by Mehreen Murtaza. It is perhaps her penchant for genres like cyberpunk that sharpens her perception of the intertwining of seemingly disparate ideological regimes such as religion and science, and their technologies and chronologies.
In his The Words Do Not Exist, Sajjad Ahmed reflects upon the devaluation of ideas, language and images in our times. In a world contaminated with words – by being fed on the media, whether television or newspapers – the importance or meaning of verbal (or visual, for that matter) is diminishing slowly.
His fundamental insight is that these images belong to genres, like the great art historical images of the past; not merely because of the strictures of conventional representation, but because generic identification is the only way in which images can compensate for the speed with which they are consumed.
Resemble Reassemble at the Devi Art Foundation was Curated by Rashid Rana.
Assistant Curator: Reha Sodhi, Devi Art Foundation
Text contributions: Salima Hashmi, Rashid Rana, Naazish Ata-Ullah, Hammad Nasar, Quddus Mirza, Naiza H Khan, Atteqa Ali, Adnan Madani, Risham Syed, Razia Sadik, David Alesworth and Ayaz Jokhio.
© Image copyrights of the Artists and the Devi Art Foundation.
Exhibit drafted by: Srinivas Aditya Mopidevi, Kriti Sood, Devi Art Foundation.