Art is used to highlight various themes, social contexts and personal experiences. However, it takes a thrilling turn when it materializes a concept such as homicide – the fictionalized murder of Shumaila, in this instance. The curious case of Shumaila began when she went missing, and later turned up dead. No one is certain who the killer is, and none ever will be. However, eight young, mid-career artists interpret the possible causes of her murder through their fascinating art.
An investigation on a horrific crime such as murder can be off-putting, not to mention discomfiting for many. Turning it into a source of inspiration for a contemporary art display may also be unsettling and rather confusing for the audience. Hence, it is all the more challenging to do justice to such a concept, so that the viewer not only comprehends the depth offered by the work, but also appreciates how contemporary art can express even a morbid idea in a visually appealing manner.
Let’s begin this exploratory journey with the prolific display of ‘clues’ by Samina Islam. Her frames include butterflies, handkerchiefs and shoes, accompanied by knitted red roses. Linked together with threads, her wall gives a detailed, magnificent display of artistic insight into Shumaila’s murder. She chooses to inquire about the poor girl by exploring her hidden sensitivity and her feminine side. The victim’s story is further personalized by using photos of her family; her tale is threaded as the lifelines in her handprint. Samina also uses a picture of her mother as she knits motifs on her eyes and clothes in a photograph titled ‘Clue Honeymoon’. It is very refreshing to see this form of evolved art from Samina, whose previous body of work has also been in fabric and threads.
Next, I saw three paintings using the same motif of an eyeball by Razin Rubin, all visualizing the concept of witnessing the crime. A painting showing fifteen symmetrical eyeballs with one missing to complete the frame caught my attention. Could this be the final string in this knotted web of clues? We cannot say for sure; however, Razin, as an aspiring artist, has a long way to go. Her three canvases portray the same idea and motif in different hues. Perhaps this represents the shift in the number of witnesses that often occurs in crime scenes. Unfortunately, what begins as fascination in the first canvas, vaporizes into a dim mist by the third.
Further along the gallery are jewelry pieces, inlaid with semi-precious stones, fashioned by Affan Baghpati. Items in metal, broken down and reformed into crafty pieces depicting a horse, a rider and what seems like a buggi (chariot), as well as earrings and a choker necklace, add a touch of glamour to the investigation of this unsolved crime.
Roohi Ahmed’s two empty chairs, connected by a red thread, represent a connection between two invisible occupants. It is unclear whether they both share the same views or one interrogates the other, but the installation is a fine demonstration of Roohi’s treatment of the medium and the theme.
Who Killed Shumaila? is a fresh and intriguing display of murder investigations in the form of painting, metallic jewelry, threadwork, and the transformation of personal memorabilia into pieces of art, video and installations. Other participating artists include Feroza Gulzar, Mir Dostak, Mudassir Sheikh and Rabia S. Akhtar.
The investigation continues at Sanat Gallery till 1st June!
You may also like:
Daachi Arts and Crafts Exhibition 2017
(November 13, 2017)
Japanese Photography Exhibition 'Tohoku'
(November 10, 2017)
Art Review: 'Loompaland' at Studio Seven, Karachi
(November 09, 2017)
The Behbud Bazaar, Islamabad
(November 07, 2017)
The Karachi Biennale 2017 (KB17)
(October 27, 2017)
Wahab Jaffer Exhibition Opens at Tanzara Gallery, Islamabad
(October 20, 2017)
Art Review: Socio-Domestic at O Art Space, Lahore
(October 11, 2017)
Art Review: 'Insta Loves II,' by Abdullah Qureshi at Satrang Art Gallery
(October 06, 2017)
Munaqqash: I Am Karachi's New Initiative for the Community
(September 20, 2017)
Group Show 'Configuration' opens at Tanzara Art Gallery, Islamabad
(September 15, 2017)
Art Review: 'Occupying the Third Space' opens at Satrang Art Gallery
(September 01, 2017)
Exhibition of Chinese Silk, Porcelain and Tea at PNCA
(August 29, 2017)
Celebrating 70 Years of Pakistani Art: A Brief Discussion
(August 09, 2017)
Art by Prisoners on Death Row – Alliance française de Karachi
(July 11, 2017)