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December 28, 2010 / the s.a. project

the MA VA kids will kick your butt

So my session at the MA Visual Arts programme is almost at an end. Less than a fortnight is left till the thesis goes up!

The past two years have been unbelievable, in terms of expanding my own practice and also in just having good ol’ college style fun. It reminded me that returning to NCA was a good decision. And it helped mark my 10 year cycle – with my first year BFA starting in January 2001 and my MA final year classes ending in December 2010.

It has also been a time for great turmoil and I have literally fought some small battles on the MA turf.

Ironically, the biggest obstacles that the program has faced are from within NCA itself. The lobbies that I go on about between the NCA and BNU mindset are almost trivial compared to the cold wars within campus. There are massive rifts between faculty members and departments and it is this childishness that has affected the smooth running of the MA VA. The change of the department head last year, from Lala Rukh to Dr. Murtaza Jafri, added to the mayhem because of deliberations on how to handle the situation diplomatically and what stance to take.

Many teachers/professors refused to come into the department to view or critique our work; our studio space was taken for granted and often hijacked for bachelors critiques or gallery shows; at many forums the work (which was never even viewed by the commentators) was ridiculed and labeled as amateur.

My friend, who is contemplating applying at this point to the programme, is shaken by the negativity she has encountered when she reached out to several people for advice. None of these people have actually bothered to even walk inside our studios once to see what we have been up to before they discarded us off as unimportant and dim-witted. If there was a genuine will to address the concerns and issues, these same people would have been welcomed by us, and in fact they were invited several times to provide their feedback to help us improve.

This kind of attitude filters through and we found ourselves facing hostility from several of the students of the Bachelors program, who were very straightforward with their bias and called us outsiders. Now with the thesis going up, the gallery has been informed by the Bachelors faculty that the MA students will not be given the gallery projectors for use. Among other things, this is one of the things that just tip over the balance for me.

What is this all about? Really. Do any of these people feel warm and gooey inside when they make sure that the students in the MA suffer? Do they win some kind of pseudo-intellectual battle? And do they really think they earn our respect?

I’ve fumed over this for most of the 2 years and made my views very very clear. I tried making inroads personnaly and approached many of these people. But I’m not diplomatic and I refuse to be when it involves such self-indulgent and juvenile behavior on the part of people who are paid by the college to impart knowledge. Bah! You can scoff at the our South Asian traditional art model; you can make fun of our practice; you can sing songs about the wastage of good studio space on us; and you can bloody well take your notions down the drain with you…See if we give a shit.

Thank you. I feel much better now.

Now let me introduce you to the MA Visual Arts class of 2009-2010 (since no one else is going to do it)

  • Wajid Ali – Distinction, BFA Karachi University, 2004
  • Naqsh Raj – Gold Medalist, BFA University of Balochistan, 2008
  • Saadia Hussain – Distinction, BFA National College of Arts (NCA), 1998
  • Zobia Yaqoob – BFA National College of Arts (NCA), 1998
  • Saira Ansari – Honours, BFA National College of Arts (NCA), 2004

    Together, the portfolios of the 5 students comprise of a significant repertoire in the arts, which includes teaching stints, participation in workshops, winning awards, and exhibitions across the country and Internationally. So there – no one gets to walk across us like we are worthless.

    p.s. Hamra Abbas, Masooma Syed, Mohammad Ali Talpur, Imran Channa, Ayesha Jatoi, Asif Sharif (Jesus), Ghulam Abbas, Ghulam Hyder Daudpota, Aqeel Solangi and Nida Bangash are some of the graduates of the MA VA program and they got their asses much further ahead than the pseudo-critics ever could.

    So poop!


    Leave a Comment
    1. anonymous neurotic brain / Dec 28 2010 9:20 pm

      This should be printed and on college walls tomorrow!

      • the s.a. project / Dec 28 2010 10:57 pm

        Hmmmm well….already people are telling me I’m being idiotic with this outburst and that as usual, instead of getting my point across, I’m going to end up offending more people and will dig an even deeper hole for me.
        That is SO NOT FAIR.
        Oh well, like I told you before, today was a ‘dil-mein-dard’ day for me and I really needed to get this out of my system.

    2. Talha Ali / Dec 29 2010 2:31 am

      WOW!!! Saira, my compliments to you for saying all that…. Whatever interaction I have had with the visual arts students, I have really enjoyed it and it is indeed shameful how some of us at NCA miss out on good things because of our “broad vision”, “high intellect”, “honesty” and “modesty”…. :))))))))) I think the story of the moral is….. “Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the prettiest of all?” and then we all remained ugly everafter!!!!!!!……. 😦 Please remember what Qaid-e-Azam’s speech on education implied – No matter how much we try to glorify glorified clerks, they will remain clerks; and clerks cannot be expected to have vision… Good luck with your South Asian Thesis and South America!!! :)))))

    3. Shehneela / Jan 4 2011 11:01 am

      Landed on your blog through your facebook profile.. your thesis work I suppose.
      I really do like your work and your blog!
      And the outburst! lol! but let me assure you, its not just NCA, I am pretty much going through the same… *sigh* the inter and intra dept rivalries and politics never end…. but i would never have enough courage to write this all out like you did!
      Also, i am much intrigued by your thesis work. what is it? I so wnat to know…
      if you if you do find time, ill be more than glad to know 🙂

      • the s.a. project / Jan 4 2011 1:52 pm

        I’m glad you landed here. the more the merrier!
        yes and these outbursts keep happening since there is so much pent up inside us, especially because of the things that you know yourself – both at NCA and where you are now. (by the way, where are you now?)

    4. Shehneela / Jan 4 2011 10:02 pm

      Yes I can totally relate to you :/ this is how it is and how it will remain.
      Oh I am crazy enough to do another masters and this time from gora land. I am doing my masters in Communication and Social Justice:)
      Yes, both my masters had nothing to do with miniature as an art form, but the art education (whatever I could get) had helped me a great deal.
      So do you guys focus on theory alot in you MA? I am going crazy with all the theory!!! it feels as if we were taught nothing back home :s

    5. zm / Jan 11 2011 8:26 pm

      i love your guts! 🙂 …thanku for the intro.

    6. mohsin shafi / Dec 29 2011 12:35 am

      speechless 🙂

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