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April 17, 2012 / the s.a. project

the blog and I evolve

My hiatus on the blog and in real life is mostly due to my engagement with my solo show that is opening this month at Experimenter, Kolkata, India.

I traveled back to Pakistan from Brazil in early March, so that I could spend sometime back home and also concentrate on producing my work from here. What followed next is a bizarre tale of 12-16 hours power-cuts that made it impossible for me to work on my computer for my digital books, and to get any kind of printing on time. The work has finally been sent, with the FedEX guy warning me that they don’t offer any insurance on packages in Pakistan. But after he told me Imran Qureshi is his regular client, my faith was instantly restored and I packed my drawings and little books and sent them off!

The work is still in the installation process in India, with Prateek and Priyanka facing their own challenges. However, what an amazing duo they have been. I have never really worked long distance before on such a large scale and because the show is mostly site specific there has been loads of uncertainty on how to get it done without me in India. But P & P have done a fantastic job in smoothing out all the ruffles, creases, and other madness I tend to surround my work with!

Hence, something will go up, some people will see it, some will hate it, some will like it, one or two will hopefully love it and then it will be over.

But what concerns me at the moment is that a lot of people have discussed where my position is now in regards to my opinions and my original stance. In the past few weeks I have been told several times that I have given in and since I have shown with/through Grey Noise several times, I must be now corrupted. I feel different. I think I got lucky with Grey Noise, because Umer was perhaps the only person who got excited about showing my scraps of paper and large amounts of text. My first solo was a complete non-commercial show, whose production was definitely a huge dent in Grey Noise’s budget. But Umer went along and I have complete admiration for his trust. Especially considering how erratically I work. My new work for Experimenter is also a largely non-commercial venture. The 4 other shows last year were in essence also experimental and mostly very personal drawings and journals.

The point is: I’m not apologetic for what I’m doing. Especially not towards those who never took the time out to read/listen to what I was talking about in the first place. I’m doing what I feel is right. My intent was never to just talk HOT AIR. I talked about things I still believe in. I cannot be made to feel guilty if I sell something. And neither can I be expected to go along with what everyone else thinks my agenda is or was.

But for some reason asking for a broader based platform for the arts translates as: I must never ever make money and must hate all those who sell. (Great. The first part seems to be working out fine!)

In a recent interview for Hindustan Times, just a few of my words and apparent quotes have been misrepresented in a way which makes it seem as if I’m mocking the traditionalists and my art school in my search for greener pastures. It’s not what I meant at all, and it’s sad because that’s exactly what ticks me off about our art market – how people are busy putting down the others’ practice. So apparently, my questions and critique are misread by most and sundry across the board. I do believe that there was no malicious intent, but perhaps thats how my work is understood.

My desire was always to make a new space for my art. The not so pretty art. The endless text. The weird drawings and the scraps of paper I love piecing together. It’s never been about debasing other forms, but mostly about questioning what people perceive to be beautiful, to be art.

So what now? I think in the past decade I’ve tried hard to find my own place and do my own thing and I’m still finding my ground. In the process, I have pissed off many people with my point of views, but mostly I have made new friends. I never claimed to be an authority on anything. But I did claim that I thought my opinion mattered, at least to myself.

So my yellow blog and I continue to evolve, grow, stumble, and fluctuate between making mistakes and crash-landing upon epiphanies. And we both give people a reason to either nod in agreement or show us the middle finger!

Future plans? When I’m rich I’ll buy the internet. And mind controlling devices. And have you inscribe my name on your back in black ink. 


p.s. My website is ALIVE. It is. 



Leave a Comment
  1. Hammad Nasar / Apr 17 2012 12:36 pm

    Saira — best of luck with your show. But may I suggest you stop insisting on how non-commercial your work is. I dont think there is anything wrong in people being able or wanting to buy your work. Creativity is not free. Creators also have to eat. And given that commercial galleries are interested in showing your work in art fairs and giving you solo shows, they also believe that either they can sell your work, or they will benefit in other ways from showing you. So be proud. No need to apologise for selling work!

    • the s.a. project / Apr 17 2012 7:36 pm

      Dear Hammad,
      Thank you for your words! Your suggestion is duly noted But my point actually was exactly what you said: I need to stop insisting and justifying anything & everything, since I’m very secure with what I do. And I will not feel guilty for selling my work.

      Its funny, considering what I’m doing has been done to death everywhere else in the world. I’m hardly the first or the fiftieth. But the struggle to keep doing it provides me the most pleasure.

      That I have found support for my ‘noncommercial’ work and the fact that people are willing to showcase or acquire it is something of a win for me. But I’d also like to appreciate those who showed me support when they had nothing to gain from it, other then a sense that I might do well!

      Also, I’d really like people to tattoo my name on their bodies, which is what my new mission is. :-X

    • Choudhary / May 9 2012 9:34 am

      I have words like Mr. Hammad Nasar.

  2. M / Apr 17 2012 3:25 pm

    It is often unfortunately the case that once work is done and out of exclusive control of the artist, it is understood in a very perfunctory superficial way with most academic dialogue. In fact, most of the time, such dialogue is limited to assigning a neat convenient pigeonhole to it from a set of academic labels, most of which are picked from the Western tradition in art. Work like yours, which is in stark contrast to the status quo finds itself in least favour because it is automatically assumed that what is so openly confrontational must be just so; it cannot additionally be discerning in its critique.
    Meh, who cares? Except those perpetuating such nonsense. Eager to hear more about the work please!

    • the s.a. project / Apr 17 2012 7:44 pm

      Hoooyah! And that you will. :).
      hear more.
      about my work.
      umm…I lost the hooyah effect there, completely.

      As for pigeonholing – You’re right. Genres and types help no one but genres and types. I’m hoping this is part of the epiphany I was mentioning earlier.

      Also, whoever you are – your blog seems very interesting. I’m particularly smitten with the name.

      • M / Apr 17 2012 8:56 pm

        Thank you. About the name, there is a drawing by Kiefer with the inscription but I can’t seem to find it anywhere online.

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