Violins, ghungroos, tablas and a beautiful event filled with art and dance

In a first of its kind, 'Silent Decibels' starts at Pakistan National Council of the Arts.


Rahim Khan November 03, 2010

ISLAMABAD: With a Pakistani regard for time and the mummery of ‘special’ guests, Silent Decibels, a multimedia art exhibition was ruefully soured to the point of distress. It pained one to see an otherwise agreeable evening tainted by slapdash sand the scrambling that comes when trying to accommodate the fashionably late.

Of course tardiness instils crabbiness like no other, especially when one has to wait an hour well past the stated start time and then be subject to a glut of pointless speeches that are neither necessary nor eloquent. But I shall stave from ranting here for that will be a disservice to the actual event, one that need not be added to the list.

In a first of its kind, Silent Decibels combined the music and instrument-inspired works of Alia Pataudi and Sana Kazi Khan with live performances, enacting in ways the music and the dances the instruments give life to.

In collaboration with the Online Music Museum in the US, the project intends to preserve and celebrate indigenous instruments. And with the watercolours of Pataudi and the miniatures of Khan, the exhibition presents 47 paintings picturing a range of instruments from accordions (in the hands of Stevie Wonder) to violins, ghungroos and tablas.

The exhibition itself started off with an interpretive dance meant to depict the recent deluge that hit the country. Proceeds from the exhibition will go towards flood relief.

The exhibition proper was presented quite imaginatively with select paintings projected on to a screen accompanied by live dances tuned to the music of these instruments. And what performances!

In what clearly topped the night, the dances put on were a true delight, one almost forgot the initial tedium, but in true pratfall manner, during one particularly lively dance, a technical fault (or shoddy organisation?) dashed whatever tempo had been built. Regardless of this snag, the overall medley so to speak was spirited and vibrant, the traditional dances such as the Peacock Dance done with finesse and the salsa, a real jaunty affair.

A stirring poetry recital (though slightly out of place) and an enjoyable pop-tabla fusion were also among the performances but in true serendipitous fashion the performance of the evening was Alia Rasheed’s debut, playing the tapara with Allah Lok on the pakhawaj.

Mentored by Raza Qadir, the visually-impaired Rasheed sang and strummed to the adulation of all present.

The evening ended with the exhibition of the artists’ work, on display to the viewing public.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 3rd, 2010.

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