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This entry was written in October 2010

The s.a. Project launch takes into account a pre-existing debate that I have been engaged in for the past 2 years with my tutors and fellow artists at the Masters program of Visual Arts at the National College of Arts, Lahore.

It has been my unconventional practice, and the responses to it over the years, that have forced me to look at the functionality of educational institutes as well as galleries and the print media. There is a contrived idea of what art and creativity should be and many artists find themselves adhering to these commercially viable stereotypes. It is particularly hard for younger artists who have just entered the field and are trying to make a mark for themselves. Commercial recognition, followed soon by dizzying financial successes, quickly taints a newcomers practice and helps determine the course of their career.

The two sorely visible lobbies now prevalent in the art world of Pakistan are those of the die-hard traditionalists and leave-all-else-behind-newmedia artists. The polarisation of these two groups and the confusion caused thence in the teaching practices of attached universities has been the worst blow to the young artists. Students find it necessary to identify with either one of the mindset, and automatically reject the other as irrelevant. Galleries have followed suit and picked favourites.

Through this project, I want to initiate a debate and a dialogue on the ethics and dynamics of these politics and the mercenary attitude of the galleries that behave more like shops and less as promoters of art and creativity.





Leave a Comment
  1. karachikhatmal / Nov 25 2010 8:18 pm


    its really exciting to find a blog dedicated to art critique. may you blog boldly, loudly and prolifically.

    now for the dirty.

    i came here through a random stumble, but i wish to stay for a rather more sinister reason. i know your thang is visual arts, but would you mind having a look at some of my short films and letting me know what you think? as an added bonus, you have several of your NCA-mates in my thesis film.


    the links

    (my thesis) (the link to part two is on the end of this clip)

    • the s.a. project / Dec 1 2010 5:42 pm

      merci beaucoup karachi khatmal!

      Indeed i plan to be bold and loud – but whether i make any sense to anyone or not is something i dont really guarantee! I’m glad you stumbled by and i hope you pimp my blog a long way on since there is hardly any blogging going on about visual arts.

      I’m definitely making a visit over to your links and going to leave my comments and rants there.

      keeping making some noise.

  2. artkapakistan / Feb 28 2011 11:48 pm

    This is fantastic. I’m with you.

    Also, I’m trying so hard to educate young people without the pressure of the two opposing forces within the art establishments (yuck, I hate that word but what the hell, right?). Sometimes it is the most difficult thing in the world to get through the day but I’m not giving up.

    Don’t ever give up or give in.

    • the s.a. project / Mar 1 2011 1:58 am

      Glad you’re part of team asshole! 😀
      jokes aside, I’m actually glad that you’re teaching with this in mind. Always better to have a more ‘aware’ session than to ignore the elephant in the room.

      • artkapakistan / Mar 12 2011 2:34 am

        Sometimes I want to hide in a dark place. But I don’t think I have that option. Afterall, TeamAsshole is a full-time committment. Jokes aside, it is a HUGE responsibility to teach anybody. Sometimes I feel very small. Mostly, I’m too tired to feel anything.

  3. artkapakistan / Feb 28 2011 11:56 pm

    Did you write about Tehreem Jafri in Papercuts? She was my student.

    • the s.a. project / Mar 1 2011 1:59 am

      yep yep that was me. I posted that article on this blog too.

  4. Taimur / Aug 1 2011 4:57 pm

    You should read (at least excerpts/introduction of) Pierre Bourdieu’s ‘Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste’. I think you’ll find synergies between your ideas and his scholarship.

    I think one is bound to find two opposing forces in any such domain — art, music, theatre, literature — the modern/contemporary/avant-garde is bound to exist for no less self-glorifying a purpose as the subversion of the traditional/established. What you may be ignoring is the result of these forces colliding — the synthesis to the thesis/antithesis, if one wants to be dialectical. The two forces are essential precursors to anything new.

    Anyhow, I will read more of your blog before coming to any deeper conclusions.

    • the s.a. project / Aug 2 2011 9:09 pm

      Thank you for that comment! I had to read it twice though because my minds a-foggy at the moment!

      In some aspects I agree. The avante-garde exists by the mere definition of its own name: advance guard – Those who push the boundaries to experiment. That is what makes them exciting and that is what makes the world go round. and round. and once more.

      I’m actually not ignoring the collision that you mention. My work has sprung from the exact collision you mention, which I find viral in our art colleges and art galleries and art institutes and museums. I wish to take no sides but I do like pointing out practices that hamper the growth of individuality – a virtue that is sadly not merited high in our educational system.

      I do believe I have come across the reading you mentioned, but I don’t think I ever went through it!! Will do so now, thank you for the reference.

      Come by more. You’re welcome to ‘deeper conclusions’!

      • the s.a. project / Aug 2 2011 9:13 pm

        Yes I do think a professor at the MA programme handed me some printouts of this reading. She must not see this and find out how it totally skipped my mind! eek

      • Taimur / Aug 4 2011 6:02 am

        I have some scanned excerpts of Bourdieu’s works I’d be happy to send to you. Do let me know if you’re interested.

        “I wish to take no sides but I do like pointing out practices that hamper the growth of individuality – a virtue that is sadly not merited high in our educational system.”

        You’re absolutely right about this. It does serve to make those rare glimpses of individuality all the more impressive, though.

        I’m a little better qualified (though by no means institutionally) to comment on Pakistani music and have to point out that it’s far more stagnant than Pakistani visual art, which I’ve recently begun exploring. It’s interesting to consider the different trajectories — but that’s just an irrelevant side note.

      • Taimur / Aug 4 2011 6:06 am

        And yeah, I just read your comment again, you’ll love reading Bourdieu =).

      • the s.a. project / Aug 4 2011 8:16 am

        you might want to read karachikhatmals comment posted for you below.

  5. karachikhatmal / Aug 4 2011 6:37 am


    Is there any place you’ve written on Pakistani music? Really interested in reading more on what you said about stagnancy.


    Hope you don’t mind this complete tangent.

    • the s.a. project / Aug 4 2011 8:14 am

      not at all. join right in!
      i tend to agree with Taimur on the Pakistani music actually…well pop music specifically.
      on the other hand, our folk and traditional stuff can kick everything else’s arse a mile and half easily, that too while reading the newspaper.

  6. Haidar Ali / Jun 11 2012 7:51 am

    this is how to become famous……setup a blog… others people’s talent……make idiotic gestures with hands…act like amin gulgee and here you have a full-fledged famous art critic.

    • the s.a. project / Jun 20 2012 9:58 am

      Wow you’re really angry about something! I’m not famous but glad you think thats where I’m headed. As for the other really really angry messages about other artists on the other posts…if you hate the work so much, why bother watching it, thinking about it, and then bad mouthing it. Why don’t you just ignore it. No one’s forcing you to watch it.

  7. Haidar Ali / Jun 20 2012 10:55 am

    well i just want to see your art…something you painted …i made that comment so that you could post your artwork in reply and say here see this…

    • the s.a. project / Jun 25 2012 6:15 pm

      Haider, I don’t need to prove anything to you. You can’t call me names rudely, and expect I will show you my work. I have been working and studying and writing and exhibiting for 10 years. I might not be big and famous in the ‘typical’ way but I really don’t care. I do it for the love of art. Not for the love of showing people. It is unfair for someone like you to come on my blog and write nasty things to me and call me an opportunist without even making an effort yourself to find out what I do. If you tried to actually READ what I write about, maybe you’d understand that I’m trying to talk about how younger artists feel when they are lost in the art world of big jargon, big sales, big names. I don’t know what your own agenda is, but if you had tried to ask me nicely I would’ve taken out the whole day to sit and have a discussion with you. Obviously, dialogue doesn’t feature very high on your list of priority.

  8. Haidar Ali / Jun 25 2012 10:37 pm

    we can have a dicussion for whole day…..but that can only be possible after ii take a look at your art….and i do endorse dialogue….

  9. vitamin / Sep 12 2012 3:29 am

    I came here thinking something else, but this interested me regardless. Inspiring stuff!

  10. Aileen / Jul 26 2013 9:32 am

    This is cool!

  11. San Diego Comic-Con / Jul 27 2013 4:44 pm

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and
    wanted to mention that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing on your rss feed and I am hoping you write again very soon!

  12. ahmadsarah / Apr 21 2016 10:41 am

    Very impressive work, authentic art!

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