Performance art: A first in Pakistan courtesy House | Pakistan Today

Performance art: A first in Pakistan courtesy House

LAHORE: A panel discussion involving artists and writers from different backgrounds took place here at the city’s “Olo Junction” on Saturday.

The talk titled “House Talks” was staged by the House initiative to discuss performance art as a medium and as an art form. The talk took place in the backdrop of a recent exhibition of performance art that took place last week titled “Body Becoming”.

The interactive talk attended by artists, art aficionado and students from different institutions of Lahore was billed as a reflective session on last week’s exhibition and on performance art in Pakistan in general.

Moderated by Musa Hassan of the House initiative included House founder Natasha Josie, art critic and head of the NCA’s fine arts department Quddus Mirza, author Bilal Tanweer and visiting American poet, podcaster, and critic Ryan van Winkle.

Kicking things off, moderator Musa Hassan talked about using the City of Lahore as a performing organism in and of itself, and how it affected performance art, before handing it over to the curator of the exhibition Natasha Jozi.

“Everything in the surroundings becomes part of the art. The colour of the walls and the floor – all of these things become important from the curator’s point of view,” she said on her experience curating “body becoming”.

“Some of the more intimate pieces had to be done indoors. For some of the other pieces we even had to consider temperature and decided that they had to be done in an air-conditioned room,” she went on to say.

Meanwhile, Quddus Mirza expressed his delight at the level of depth and nuance that the artists displayed last Saturday.

“I did not expect that the concept of performance art in Pakistan would be interpreted with such diversity yet with such gravity,” he said. “I was impressed by the seriousness of the performances – they did not deal with cliche issues but big ones such as life, existing, death, and confinement.”

Ryan van Winkle, who is in Lahore as part of the Sarmad Khoosat play “No Time To Sleep”, said that he was fascinated by the curation’s use of space in the art, and how constraints force a certain kind of art through problem-solving, creativity and tensions.

Author Bilal Tanweer, the only non-artist on the panel, talked about the curation from the point of view of an audience member and not as an artist.

“The show was absolutely stunning and I’ve never experienced something like this. I was amazed by the transformation of domestic space into performance space,” he said.

After the panel discussion was over, many of the artists present in the crowd also spoke about their particular pieces and the experience that went behind performing them.

The artists that were part of the curation included Abrar Ahmed, Ahmed Khan, Ajiya Asif, Arsalan Afzal, Haider Shah, Hamna Khalid, Maha Sohail, Waleed Sajid and Aisha Suria, Nayyab Naveed, and Kanwal Tariq.

Abdullah Niazi

Abdullah Niazi is a member of staff currently studying Literature at LUMS. He also writes and edits for The Dependent.

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