KARACHI: The first thing to welcome all entrants was a university student insisting on singing Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in an extremely off-key manner as the microphone shrieked in protest. There was little more to the Institute of Business Administration's Youth Arts and Literary Exhibition than what met the eye, or in this case, the ear.
The art exhibition at the festival, which took place at the Regent Plaza, displayed the works of students, all of whom were under the age of 25, according to organiser Saadia Saleem. "We wanted a platform for the youth to exhibit their talents in what are often ignored fields," she said, insisting that art and photo exhibitions don't take place in the city.
In an attempt to make up for the perceived lack of exhibitions in Karachi, this particular one decided to incorporate everything: photographs, poetry, films, paintings and even debate. By trying to do so, they ended up being master of none, and even calling them jacks would be unfair to the trades themselves.
The use of cheap materials for the art gave away the fact that it was not done by professionals but most of the talent on display belied it. From pop culture references like a depiction of the Spartans in the 300 movie, Ariel - The Little Mermaid and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to political caricatures, the students dabbled in a wide variety of subjects.
However, just like every good thing at the exhibition, it was surrounded by mediocrity. One of the artists got a little carried away and decided to copy Picasso's cubist phase. However, the end result was a gruesome reminder to the artist that she is not Picasso, not even close.
On the opposite wall hung poetry, few in English, few in Urdu, fewer still worth reading.
The photo exhibition was perhaps the only place that didn't disappoint. The words 'Jagen Gay Zaroor' [We will surely wake up] were written on one of the walls. It showed pictures of a desolate Karachi, of water puddles and of homelessness.
'Mar Gaya Insan' [Man is dead] was written on the other side. Despite the dramatic words, the pictures in that collection were a let-down. The only picture that caught the eye was of a man in a room filled with rubble. The man, broken and bent, wore a bright blue kurta that almost lit up the room. The picture was just as dramatic as the title, even though it portrayed the defiance of man, of his will to live, rather than of the death of humanity.
The silver lining
On the furthest corner of the large room resided nostalgia and there lay one of the exhibition's only saving graces. The display had a write-up of the Beatles' visit to Pakistan in the 1960s, of the filming of the Hollywood movie Bhowani Junction in Lahore, of the hippie trail that once travelled through the country and of the Karachi tram.
The section also had an area dedicated to Lollywood in its heyday. It showed a once budding industry and served to remind the onlookers of its dramatic downfall.
One of the main themes of the exhibition was 'anti-piracy' and two panel discussions were held to discuss the controversial issue. While the exhibition had entries from many different schools and universities, including the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, it served as a harsh lesson as to why IBA students should stick to business than to try and cross the great divide and dabble in art or literature.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2014.
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Is this article about the Youth Arts and Literary Exhibition or is it about how bad IBA is at managing Arts/Literature events?
Its interesting that despite pointing out some positives the author is still dismissive of the whole event. The quality of the art and literature on display was based on what students aka the 'unprofessionals' had provided for the event, it is sad if they did not meet the authors expectations but that doesn't say anything about the institute hosting the event. The event itself was well executed , with a decent atmosphere and punctuality- the panel discussion was informative and the theater competition engaging and captivating (two parts not discussed here). It was also free of cost for everyone.
The silver lining mentioned here was actually the only thing prepared by IBA students themselves and it showed the dedication to the idea behind YALE. IBA may not be an art school but that is no reason to dismiss the efforts of its students.
I don't agree that "One should stick to one's own trade only" There are no bars in artistic or creative expression, but I must also admit, generally speaking I've noticed if you look in your surroundings with the passage of time we seem to have lost all sense of aesthetics, taste and decorum. Our previous generations were more mindful of it. We seem not to care and crass has overtaken class and result is pure kitsch