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December 12, 2010 / the s.a. project

there is nothing homo-erotic about this post

Mona Lisa by one of my favourite artists, Jean Michel Basquiat

The s.a. Project now welcomes external writers to send in their views, opinions and rants on anything and everything about the art world in Pakistan.

The ranters are encouraged to take on ostentatious personas and pseudonyms so that they can express their honest opinions without fear of being ground to a pulp in the ‘korein‘ milkshake machine at the NCA canteen.

Please send in your  angry 1-liners, 2 small friendly paragraphs, or long lesbian/left/lollipop  monologues to this email address: .

Like always, I’m expecting feedback  via texts, fb messages, or in person…but no no no, you must make an effort. Email me.


Especially the two of you who told me your amazing feedback, know who you are and you MUST get cracking on this soon.

Otherwise…There will be blood.



Leave a Comment
  1. anonymous neurotic brain / Dec 12 2010 9:28 pm

    We are afraid of theory

    I recently got a chance to attend one of the talk at this gallery in Karachi where the gallery’s mission is making a meaningful, academic addition to the thriving art with theoretical approaches of art making in Pakistan. I am really thrilled with the aspiration and idea but I wonder where the collaboration was in this particular project where critics and artists were supposed to work through discussion and come up with something new? Artists produced a visual comment on different aspects of our society according to their exacting subjects. In essence each critic was to take on the mantle of curator for her/his own artist. The critic and artist were to agree on a theoretical model that was supposed to be the basis of the work produced for the show. When I looked at the artwork first, it seemed visually really appetizing to me. But then I felt that the language used by the critics in the talk to make comment on artworks was entirely different to the language used to conceive on the artist’s comment and also different to the language used to put forward on the different aspects of our social and cultural norms.

    In my viewpoint, Art critics were attempting to interpret the visual language but they completely lost the visual significance in translation. I believe, sometimes images are created in the interpretation, sometimes the interpretation is more interesting than the original comment, and indeed, sometimes the visual language is more appealing than the actual comment. and that I believe happened in this discussion’s case.

    But again the question is that how empty was theory in the presence of those art works? We cant blame on these critics only because on a whole, we are in a very strange situation where some artists have derived a lot from their theoretical reading but on the other hand, a lot of artists have not even tipped their hands and proved that how selective and shallow their understanding is/was. It for sure is very hard to maintain a theory in the face of life that comes crashing about our artwork and us. I am not sure that art and theory in Pakistan was ever that close to begin with. I believe, there are few of artists who read theory critically but not all that many. And most of the hypothetical text that is written by our critics usually is cliché. But we need to note is that what people now call theory is an enormous pitch and a comparatively little amount of it bears directly on Pakistani art, or at least on our art making.

    In this particular case, where the critics took quite a while to talk about the process that artist acquired to achieve those art works, there was no discussion in reference to the theory of what numerous authors and critics have already written or talked regarding those exacting intakes. The conversation was quite drowning and uninteresting. It was more like a one way broadcast where no dialogue took place between artist/critics and listeners. After a stretched speak when one of the viewer actually asked a comprehensive question, it was said that they should just look at the work and digest on their own which I found really clichéd. Most of the people that I talked to after the so-called discussion, they didn’t get anything out of it. It seems to me that in our Pakistani lalalala art world, it is more to do with the art of the sell, rather than the artist depicting the theory of art. A lot of critics who do theory full time don’t really want to acknowledge that the process of making art is fundamentally different from the process of writing about art. And, therefore even though they may share a phrase but they don’t share at all the same kind of expression or objective.

    Strangely enough, the administrative structure of Pakistani art institutions have mostly been separated out production from theory /history/criticism compare to the art institutions abroad, because of that I feel that the benefits of this marriage of text and visuals are rarely seen. Mostly students are not even able to develop a style with their subjects because of not giving them alternatives. They are usually forced to work in a specific pattern without any conversational reproductive practice. The need is to know that a simple image on the canvas is not good enough; we need to cut the appearance of that image. Whether we think that it represents ‘traditional technique’, whether we think that it represents ‘reality’ or a ‘window to reality’ and should BRING THEORY IN

    • the s.a. project / Dec 13 2010 2:31 pm

      silly goose i’m now adding this as a blog post.
      and i’m adding the edited version you sent me.
      and thaaaank you!

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