The Fourth ASNA Clay Triennial kicked off on Friday with a short skit, Mitti Walay Haath, by Sheherezade Alam, one of the first ceramists of Pakistan who joined the profession 40 years ago.
The skit explained in details the steps of making pottery - an art that most experts at the reception believed was lost on the current generation.
“The purpose of this event is to connect today’s generation with our cultural roots which go back to ceramics and pottery,” said Meher Afroz, one of the founding members of ASNA. She pointed out that the youth today would not be able to understand the skit because most of them have probably never have seen a pottery maker at work. “The future lies in the hands of the common man and we have to allow the common man to express himself,” she said while explaining the link between artistic suppression and violence to The Express Tribune.
The reception also marked the opening of an exhibition, Light and Lightness, featuring works of 60 ceramists from 16 countries which will run till January 31. The keynote address at the opening was delivered by Claude Presset, an artist from Switzerland, who spoke about the different kinds of ceramics she had come across during her travels in Australia, India, South America, Italy, and other countries.
Art and expression
The organisers of the triennial stressed that the event wasn’t only about ceramics. “Ceramics is just one of the many prisms through which you can study society,” said Niilofur Farrukh, another founding member of ASNA. “The event aims to initiate a discussion among the youth and in Pakistan’s social circles about the meaning of art and creative expression. We want to see how many interpretations people can find in art,” she explained, adding that the event was the result of a year’s worth of hard work by experts from various fields, including media groups and architects.
According to VM Art Gallery Director Riffat Alvi, the event aims to move Karachi’ites away from all the violence that has taken the city into its grip over the past few years. “I wish I could invite the Taliban and politicians to take a break from their long and short marches and join us,” she said. “People may hold all kinds of marches but we [the artists] will be the ones to touch the souls of Pakistani people.”
International artists, who have come to Karachi for the event, have been put up at the residences of Pakistani artists so that they can get a feel of the country’s culture, said Alvi.
Indian artist Ela Mukherjee opined that the event was “beyond great”. When asked about the accusations and counter-accusations between Pakistan and India about the clashes on the border, she said that artists are not constrained by geographic and political borders. “We are all equal because we all believe in art.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2013.
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