Profession: Visual Arts
Administration by Umair J
|This time we present you a "Featured Artist Couple": Huma Mulji (HM) and David Chalmers Alesworth (DCA).
HM: I was born in Karachi and moved to Lahore in 2002 to teach at the School of Visual Art, Beaconhouse National University. Apart from that, I facilitate the Vasl Artists Residency and related events in Lahore.
DCA: I grew up in the UK and moved to Karachi in 1988 and subsequently to Lahore in 2006. I also teach at BNU as well as undertaking some landscape design consultancy in addition to my art practice.
About your work and vision:
HM: I enjoy cultural and visual conflicts, those of images and language, that are an outfall of living 300 years in the past and 30 years in the future. My work too, looks at these ironic juxtapositions.
DCA: I’ve worked through a number of periods and across cultures. My concerns continue to evolve but a common thread has been a critique of the art gallery as a privileged space.
Current and future exhibitions:
Half Life: NCA gallery, February 16-March 4, 2009
High Rise: Elementa Gallery Dubai, May 6- May 30, 2009
Hanging Fire-Contemporary Art from Pakistan, Asia Society, New York, September, 2009
Half Life: NCA gallery, February 16-March 4, 2009-02-05
I also have works in the national collection of Pakistan as well as various international collections.
About Lahore or Pakistani culture:
HM: The unfiltered acceptance of all available combinations of cultural possibilities is great. It’s the greatest country to be living in as an artist J The wealth of material, both in terms of material literally, but also material as in a wealth of things to make art about. The disregard of individual responsibility towards a broader urban vision, for the city or country is unforgiveable.
DCA: The decorated transport phenomena in Pakistan ranks very high for me, its something Pakistan should be proud to host and actively protect and encourage. Hoarding painting is another dying urban craft that could easily be kept alive through corporate sponsorship. The lack of civic sense at every level is something that needs to change urgently; people need to believe in the possibility of positive change in their lives.
Next Events (also recommendations of other events or artists):
(Jointly)Unum Babar, Exhibition at Rohtas Gallery, February 9th, for two weeks
Sajjad Ahmed, Exhibition at Al-Hamra Art Gallery, from February 6th, for two weeks.
Critical Mass, a group of bicycle enthusiasts! In Lahore. Free and loads of fun. Every Sunday at 10:00 a.m. we meet at Zakir Tikka, in Cantt.
Since when are you in the music/art scene?
HM: Since 1995
DCA: Pakistan since 1988
Why did you choose being an artist as your profession?
HM: It was an accident ;)
DCA: Art and science are the two axis of enquiry that motivate my life.
What do you think should be done to improve the situation of arts in Pakistan?
HM: Support for existing arts popular crafts and everyday objects, perhaps something like the state emporia in India. And the Museum of Everyday objects at Sanskriti Kendra in Delhi. A public museum of modern and contemporary art is the most crucial. Better care of historical sites. More private collectors to be interested contemporary art, Open competitions for possibilities for public art. The roundabouts in the city are AWFUL. Is the horse our national animal????
DCA: Definitely more international quality exhibition spaces and the administrative structure and budget to run them professionally. Then some of the big touring shows can be hosted here, and Pakistan might host some of its own. In short more global interaction and exposure.
With which artists have you been working together/jamming?
HM: I teach with a number of really interesting artists. Bani Abidi, Rashid Rana, Marium Suhail, Ayyaz Jokhio, David Alesworth, Risham Syed and Gwendolyn Kulick. I also discuss ideas with, and have a lot to share with Adnan Madani (Karachi), Sarnath Bannerjee (Delhi), Anup Mathew Thomas (Bangalore). I have also collaborated on public art projects with : 1999-2002, Shilpa Gupta from Mumbai, with art students towards 13 Satellites of Lahore in 2007-8, and with Vasl Artists Collective, for residencies in 2006-2008.
DCA: Adnan Madani, the Karachi based artist is someone I’ve been working with in the last year, we produced a collaborative video titled “The Frankfurt School”. Also at BNU my colleagues as listed above. I also enjoy working alongside non-art world collaborators, urban crafts people such as welders and fabricators. I really enjoy the camaraderie of working together to find new solutions to technical issues.
What do you think about the Pakistani food scene?
HM: Its not adventurous enough. But there is a lot more experimentation happening with growing great fruits, vegetables and herbs in the country. Perhaps because of the popularity of BBC Food? The idea of “authentic” does not feature. But “Daali” foods, initiated by Samia Mumtaz is a great introduction. Food Street by contrast, was much better before it was “adopted”, if a little less accessible to this wide a range of people.
DCA: There’s been a trend towards locally grown exotic produce like hybrid tomatoes, ruccula, avocados, organic produce and lots of fresh herbs, which is great. Local cheeses should be next. This is the way towards making a truly diverse cuisine sustainable and accessible to all. I think good food is all about having diverse choices and these should originate in high quality local produce.
Do we really need art and music if yes why?
HM: For a sense of wonder. For sanity.
DCA: There’s always a slightly subversive edge to good contemporary art and music that’s about challenging the status quo and positing new ways to be. I also think great music is essentially devotional by nature.