The Artists Of The Manifesto Of Nomadism returned to Gallery Full Circle, Karachi, in early December 2018, with their most idiosyncratic set of work to date. The Manifesto has been spoken of in detail elsewhere, previously. Suffice it to say that it serves as a structuralist basis on which research and development for theories of regional art and sensibility continue to be produced by a small group of artists, and indeed, fairly early in the span of time since its’ coming into being, it has delivered up at least one interesting observation: If, from within Systems Theory, one may apply ideas of dominance, residuality and emergence to the creative environment , then, keeping to strong arguments, while the dominant and residual are clearly demarcated, there is no emergent sector - there is a tendency to label new and up-coming artists as ‘emerging’, but in reality this label bears little or no relevance to the creation of work or the exposition of concepts, in short, endeavors that challenge and overcome present orthodoxies. By any reckoning, the term ‘emergent’ should, both strictly and simplistically speaking, be synonymous with iconoclasm.
One set of P.M. Rizvi’s work in fact takes up that challenge: having thoroughly researched Freud’s studies on the mechanism of dreamwork, he uses wasli, card and Benarassi silk in combination with rubber, metal and wood, for instance, to articulate psychoanalytical theories (See fig.12). The result is a floridly multidimensional excursion similar to the material appropriations of the dreaming mind to produce a symbology which extends from the intelligible to the frankly absurd, yet is wholly referential to Erwin Panofsky’s theoretical grid of visuality in art. This ‘of the moment’ mechanism then puts paid to the notion of an apprentice’s exercises in repetition and restraint, a controlled compulsion that is said to transform the artist who, in completely identifying with his materials therefore is supposed to have achieved a phenomenological ‘until’ of perfection and spiritualized form.
Similarly, in the same vein of experimentation, in the direct usage of M. Ali’s finely executed silver bangles, rings and necklaces made with precious metals, gems and ornamental stones, providentially combined with bamboo, silk and lint, to construct ritualized and ritualising objects, we are invited to approach new territories: in order to erase the self-imposed boundary that threatens to separate theory from pragmatics in Art, P.M. Rizvi borrows and tests notions derived from Deleuze and Guattari’s seminal writing on nomadic jewelry ( A thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Brian Massumi 1980). Manizhe Ali herself has, at the end of a decade of involvement, achieved a high degree of design, and also a mastery of the collaborative process with the Karigar system which is mainly anchored in creating ritual objects of excellent quality and superlative beauty for the Shia community, and is comprised of highly-skilled metalworkers and silversmiths (See figs. 5-7. ).
Ali Khan literally spent time ‘nomadising’ across Pakistan in the summer of 2018, to visit production centers famed for the crafts. The result, among other objects, was a series of calligraphised bespoke Hala pottery vases further ornamented with brass (see figs. 8-11.). Khan’s artistic ethos, already partly based on evocative and textural two-dimensional canvases, remains strongly centered on the experiential as well, and it is in the canvas-and-wood combinatoire titled ‘Aura’ that he brings forward a new sculptural parameter. This work is a canvas-based ‘painting’ paired with a thickly lacquered cross-section of natural wood, and manages to test ideas of genotypal tracery as expressed in the second part of the Manifesto.
A moment of privilege is clearly at hand for the Artists Of the Manifesto Of Nomadism in the usage of dynamic divisions, stratifications and sedimentations ( See figs 1-4.), elements which first surfaced in P.M. Rizvi’s experimental photography as early as 1998, to an incorrigibly well-informed adaptation of structuralist modes in the linkage of art and craft, and deployment of resources in order to interface with the transitional psychosocial landscape here. Again, this has not been a haphazard occurrence for this small group of artists – it stems from an in-depth cognition of historical value and opportunity that could serve well as foundational structures for regional contemporary art and concomitantly, the furtherance of craft, in Pakistan.
NB: The three artists involved - Manizhe Ali, Paul-Mehdi Rizvi and Ali Khan – are advanced practitioners in the visual arts as well as the crafts. M. Ali has been formally teaching Art and Media Sciences for a considerable time (along with designing her own line of highly contemporary silver jewelry). Ali Khan is now heavily involved in Interior Design projects and P.M. Rizvi continues to follow his auto-didactical inclinations to research areas involved in critical frameworks for Art and Design. Gallery photography courtesy Ammad Qadir.