Tuesday, February 7th, 2023
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Born and raised in Karachi artists Haider Ali and Noman Siddiqui portrayed how the city of lights have changed over the years in a two person show at Sanat Gallery Karachi. Both the artists were well aware of the city as they grow up witnessing the changes to this largest cosmopolitan city in 90s. The exhibition titled "Prologue - Epilogue" covered all aspects of a city that affected the lives of people who dwell and live there during the years till now.

As the artists were street-smart they absorbed all modifications and alterations made to the city to adjust its population. The diversity of this city which still continues made it more prone to certain factors like ethnic rivalries, political rivalry, sectarian tensions, socio-political situations and population growth. But being an economic hub of the country this city has through much turbulence and will suffer at the hands of such elements in future too.

The artist reflected all this in their own way in their photographs and three-dimensional works which sometimes seemed personal and other times social. The constant changes in demographic structure of the city made it impossible to create a sense of permanence. Thus a story is narrated in two different styles of a city providing their individual perspectives. Thus the show was a documentation of their experiences and observations of Karachi. They reconstruct the city through their memories and experience living here.

Haider Ali's photographs in black and white showed how people as well as politicians see this city. The colours of the city has been lost to the garbage heaps, over flowing gutters, car scraps and demolished buildings. He photographed these locations and showed show children were playing along garbage heaps unaware of health hazards. A car dumped in a street with out realizing how dangerous it can be. And the problems faced by the people due to constructions of different roads, buildings and city transit system that are affecting the dynamics of the city.

He is interested in observing and reflecting on how places interact and respond to present-day demography. They are intersections of what could have been before and what might come afterward. The titles of his photographic works say it all such as "Utopia_Dystopia", "Apathetic it was...", "Discoided dystrophy", "Battening city 1" and "Deconstructed Deconstruction".

Noman Siddiqui used language of material and colour to expose the ills of the city. His three-dimensional works with colourful famous symbolic elements such as chair, heart, balloon, mirror. He used satire style to tackle social issues in a light way. He mimics certain characters of our society and gave his installations a comic element to tone down the seriousness because he wanted to start dialogue through the powerful and disturbing imagery.

A work titled "Bari Nazuk Surat-e-Haal Hai" showed colourful heart shaped pins five in a row having three rows pin point the situation of the city we are going through now-a-days before elections. While another work titled "Kursi, Phasra Aur Awam 1" portrayed the ruling class in the form of a big royal chair and an inflated balloon filled with a liquid about to burst sit on the chair symbolically for citizens of the country. In an artwork titled "Rangeen Goli" small balls of various metallic colours sit in a line symbolises the promises of politicians which they made with people ahead of elections.

(The writer can be reached at [email protected])

Copyright Business Recorder, 2018

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