Over the past week, when Peshawar was rocking with low intensity blasts, corridors of Nishtar Hall were bustling with eager youngsters who wanted to share their understanding of intolerance through artistic activities.
Students from all over the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and the tribal areas gathered at a week-long artists’ camp titled ‘Face Off’, jointly arranged by Hunerkada and Directorate of Culture K-P. The aim of this fiesta was to enable youth to express their opinions through paintings, films, music, dance, theatre, sculpture and other types of creative activities.
The overall activity was divided into three sections. It kick-started on May 7 with a two-day discourse, during which panellists discussed roots and panacea of intolerance and in its second stage, a training workshop was launched in Nishtar Hall from May 9 to May 15. The third and the final stage is a two-day exhibition of art work produced by students which will be exhibited from May 16 till May 18.
Afra, a student of textile designing at the Iqra University who attended the workshop, said that it was a lively event and a welcome change for the people of K-P. She received training on landscape painting at the camp and did a project on terrorism along with her teammates. “It was really inspiring to brainstorm ideas and channel them through art,” she said. Afra adds that this workshop received such an overwhelming response because there is a dearth of art-promoting platforms in Peshawar and people are hungry for arts and crafts. “I want such classes and sessions to be held as regularly in Peshawar as they are held in Karachi and Lahore,” she adds.
British photographer Edmund Clark was one of the attendees who were overjoyed to see the positive side of Peshawar. He said that international media portrays Peshawar as a city of crisis, but after visiting it personally, Clark realised that there is so much more to the city than just war and bombs. “I found people of this city friendly and life seems to be normal. What I saw here is quite opposite to what the media shows us,” he said.
The time is now
Prominent Pakistani drama artist Jamal Shah, who is also the supervisor of the event, told The Express Tribune that intolerance and radicalism has grown considerably in Pakistan and now is the time to unite and discuss these issues. “The aim of this workshop is to make people question themselves and decide what they have to do in the future,” Shah said. He added that prominent artists, intellectuals and journalists were invited at this event and the first two days were reserved to discuss the issues prevalent in Pakistani society.
Shah said that the response to the event was positive as 40 per cent of the participants were from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), who came to the fore and showed how much they wanted to do for their region. “Initially about 180 students were trained in visual art, film-making, journalism and other parts of arts, but later the number increased to 250,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2012.
More in Life & StyleSana Safinaz to open retail stores