The curious tendencies of artists make them pursue some unknown paths. At other times, they follow the ones already known. How well do the artists portray their imagination? Is the viewer able to comprehend their imagination through their lens?
These are some of the questions that the exhibition at Gandhara gallery seems to be trying to answer. Titled 'The Science of Taking a Walk — Navigating (re)navigating: Forming Trajectories', the show is being curated by Hajra Haider Karrar and opened on Thursday. The exhibition features the works of Bani Abidi, Farida Batool, Yaminay Chaudhri, Shalale Jameel, Naiza Khan, Fazal Rizvi, Omer Wasim, Seher Naveed and Seema Nusrat.
The work by Khan, titled 'Rear View', depicts the scene of a film being shot through binoculars. The scene in the picture is obscure and reveals only a certain part of the view. Text from Henry Pottinger's 1816 book, 'Travels in Beloochistan and Sinde', is also written with the picture. The text is printed with the help of a digital C-Type printer on Hahnemuhle photo rag.
The exhibition also features a still taken by Chaudhri, which focuses on a ship that, like an amorphous being, is unable to move forward or backward and is caught between the dry shore and the ocean.
For Wasim, the world is an infinite text and language is the ground of existence. He has presented a set of 56 prints and three other works. Using digital print on paper, Wasim's work is based on the philosophy that humans are constituted by language and that, too, with text. He says that text has implications for subjectivity — for what it means to be human.
Jameel's set at the exhibition offers six scanned photographs, taken from original passport pictures, which depict the dynamic transfer and transformation of something from one discourse to another as a result of resizing and resetting. According to Jameel, the whole story about these pictures is a story about people, faces and looking.
While some people may feel fear when they see barricades in Karachi, Seher Naveed and Seema Nusrat view these barriers as additions, subtractions and alterations. Their work, titled 'False Perspective', is all about viewing, walking, and comprehending a space that is present in physical and psychological terms.
Similarly, Rizvi has presented a series of typewriter drawings. Titled 'Pathar' and 'Pahadi', his works dwell on how views change.
An interesting pictorial narrative at the show is Batool's piece, titled 'Kahani Eik Shehr Ki'. As a protagonist, Batool tries to narrate the story of her city, Lahore, through the juxtaposition of images that she took while walking on the different roads of the city. The picture gives an overview of everyday life in Lahore: from the simple sight of parked cars to noisy rickshaws roaming around the city, the movement of crowd towards a mosque to passing by the barred gates of the Lahore High Court, a look of the boundary running parallel to the court where vendors sit, to the wall-chalking by different political and religious groups. The overall effect generated by the movement created by the optical illusion work is difficult to capture on a still photographic format; yet this is what Batool has created.
Another gripping pair of stills was that by Abidi. Titled 'Mangoes', the piece shows two people having the fruit. According to Abidi, 'Mangoes' is a reflection on the shared history of two nations: India and Pakistan. They enjoy the fruit together by talking about their childhood, but the sweet conversation soon turns sour when they start comparing the range of mangoes grown in either country, said Abidi.
The show, in which almost every work offers insight into the trajectories we form in comprehending an artwork, continues till July 25.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2015.