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March 27, 2011 / the s.a. project

Dubai Return

Wow! My last post was on the 9th of March. What a long hiatus…but justly so, since I’m still recovering from that ‘Dubai Return‘ feeling that just isn’t easy to shake off. On the morning of the 10th of March, I made my way to the airport and was robbed en route by people pretending to be intelligence officers. In retrospect, they probably really were intelligence officer collecting extra pocket money. GREAT! Just what I needed to reinforce my views about the law and order situation (this not being my first, or less dangerous, encounter with the great law enforcers that run the country.)

And then, from the moment I landed in Dubai till I stepped back home, it was endless hours and days of work, planning, hardware/goat balls shopping (more on that later), installing, networking, and drinking gallons of tea/coffee all over Dubai. It was exhausting to the say the least, and this too after I weaseled my way out of most of the after parties and agent meetings and ‘important’ lunches dinners planned. Umer Butt (GreyNoise) should have just shot me but he didn’t. But he deserves a medal for putting up with me and the various public/personal crises that follow me everywhere I go.

But what a whirlwind these 10 days were. From the jamjar show ‘HEAR ME ROAR’ to the Art Dubai 2011 week, I met some of the most extraordinary people. The most exciting part of it was the fact that some of the most ‘powerful’ people I met were young people aged between 30-40. Goodness gracious me (translate into favourite punjabi cussword), I have to be honest, I was green with envy on many occasions. These were young people like you and me who were no doubt smart and hardworking. But what made their lives and careers different were the opportunities they were offered and the incentives they took. Don’t get me wrong. The art world is just as cut-throat all over, but those with merit and a nice big helping of  butt-kicking abilities really do make their way forward. They are Driven.

Back home, one rule stands unbroken, undivided: Kursi Nahi Chorni.

Why is it that there are rarely any young people in important executive positions in the Arts in Pakistan? Curatorial experimenters, Publishing geniuses, open-minded Grants/Awards Planners, etc etc. It would be too far critical to just point out that new-comers are not encouraged in such positions or given any sort of pat on the back. I think it’s also a LOT to do with the fact that us young people have become accustomed to ‘climbing the ladder for eons psyche’ before making it to any important position. Climb the ladder all you want, if you’re learning or educating yourself. But not being ambitious or driven like a maniac is just not good enough.

We have become lazy. We make work only for shows. And we only write when an essay is due for the Fulbright Scholarship.

If there’s one thing we must all encourage its Risk. The Exhilaration of Risk. To do new things, to break rules, and to enjoy learning. And to make/create/replicate for the sheer passion of it. This rule does not apply to advertisers and graphic designers who are on a warpath to eliminate their teachers and permanently handicap their students! They need Prozac.

And then we must follow it by promoting fresh young talent which is not afraid of risk taking.

More on the Dubai escapades in the next posts.

You can look forward to: the ‘goat balls’ incident, more on Art Dubai, mushroom shows around Dubai, my favourite abraaj awardee 2011, a chat with Virginia Whiles, how to get expensive books for free, gorgeous NARA drawings that I could’ve stolen, any many other experiences.

Or you could be annoyed by me and spam my blog with hatemail. i love you too.


Leave a Comment
  1. Amina Art Ansari / Mar 27 2011 6:04 pm

    Thats just what we needed – including me!!! Please keep me in your mind for any work to be involved with. We need more ppl like you. Well done on your success!!!

  2. Afia / Mar 27 2011 8:02 pm

    You’re so right… we don’t have a culture of 30-somethings being at the head of something, unless it’s their own start-up!

    • the s.a. project / Mar 27 2011 9:29 pm

      you afia are a 30-something word-wizard who is the editor of an international webzine for south asian english writers. you’ve done it! make sure you pass the germs on. go on an academic sneezing round!

  3. s.a / Mar 27 2011 8:06 pm

    good job! i am so happy for you!Go saira!

    • the s.a. project / Mar 27 2011 9:23 pm

      Thank you saadia!
      Although for a moment I was taken aback by the s.a. signoff on top of your commentbox wondering if i’ve been commenting on my own post in my sleep!

  4. Bass / Mar 28 2011 10:23 am

    Lol @ goat balls….i’m almost afraid to ask……well S.A. I like the blog that you’ve got going….I agree on the views on jump starting the sloth like culture……….well the lack of systems in place to facilitate & encourage the further development of talent in general for the youth of today also has a major part to play…….
    I guess one option is to have this young’uns grab life….or in this case the goat….by the balls and seize zee opportunity to make something of themselves….that’s old school….It’s the whole vicious circle that we’ve got going on….the only way is to perform an ultimate “find muck” (clue – switch first letters) that changes views, perspectives and approach to life in general. Our nation, unfortunately is resigned to the fact that the system is corrupt or there are some serious areas for improvement for which not anyone is too eager to raise a finger on…….
    We face a paradox – the answer is simple, but simple as it may be…it just might be the most difficult thing that we may just do. In order to break the cycle and fight the system we so loathe we need to overcome the only obstacle that stops us from achieving ANY goal we set out to do……and that is ourselves….we need to change….take baby steps, make small tweaks for the better.
    A small change in us leads to a collective change in generations….when the time is right – at least we’re on the same page; if push comes to shove we can bring down the system and set one that is better…..who would’ve known that this came around because of goat balls….. 😛

    • the s.a. project / Mar 28 2011 12:05 pm

      hahah! I’ll let Hurmat know how much attention her ‘goatballs’ installation has received! the work was another artists but please feel free to use it as a (dare i say) symbol of revolt!

      I do agree with you though. We really need to step up our game and find loopholes in the faulty system or create our system. The internet for one provides all kinds of free information and forums if used correctly.

      Power to the young guns!


  1. Dubai Return | Tea Break
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