Tuesday, 28 June 2011

My art is not for you Prime Minister Gilani!


Originally Published in The Express Tribune
My friend stood painting something abstract, holding a cigarette  in a manner that complimented her artistic persona. She probably noticed my sarcastic smile and said, ‘Hey Ammar! I know you criticize abstract art, but you see artists are free souls. We don’t believe in any rules, regulations and boundaries. We choose to be apolitical and are not disciplined folks at all. Discipline and art do not go along.”
I remained silent looking at something black lying next to her bag. She continued, “What are you looking at? The graduation gown? That’s for the convocation dress rehearsal. Everything has to be perfect for the honorable Prime Minister!”
I’ve decided that I am not going to attend the 12th convocation of the National College of Arts, from where I graduated last year. I am not going to be a part of this celebration. Despite being a distinction holder and the fact that my parents have waited for this moment I graduated – I refuse to attend. This should be taken as a small form of resistance over an event where artists rush to offer protocol to bureaucrats.


Imagine. 


You spend four years at an art school while learning about the art of resistance. Your film thesis depicts the class struggle in an obscure area of Pakistan. You graduate  with distinction with an emphasis on Marxist Film Theory and finally you receive your graduation degree, with a fake smile on your face, while wearing a stupid black gown and cap, from Mr. Yousaf Raza Gillani!   


Sorry, It doesn’t make any sense.  You may think that I am being ultra leftist but I cannot participate. You can either be Darbaari or Awaami.


Many consider our academic artists as some sort of rebels who oppose the bourgeoisie and bureaucracy.
Wrong.
A majority of them have a love affair with the establishment. I find it ironic that some ‘liberal artists’, who claim to be the intellectual vanguard of the country, are so pro-establishment. This doesn’t just include the fresh art graduates but also academics who romanticize their ‘artistic freedom’ and have illusion of being liberators. These people feel pride in the fact that  a feudal cum Prime Minister of a chaotic country would spend a few minutes in their ceremony. The “free souls” are so afraid of committing any mistake that they organize rehearsals to make sure everything remains ‘disciplined.’
Mr Gilani hasn’t played any slightest role in shaping my artistic abilities. He probably doesn’t even know what art is. He has no right to preside the convocation ceremony of an art school. I can’t pretend to have any respect when I don’t have that for him.


I don’t have any illusions regarding People’s Party being ‘comparatively a progressive party’ of Pakistan. All the main leadership come from a feudal background, something that can never be ignored. Moreover, during their regime we have witnessed the brutal killings of their senior and outspoken members likeSalmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti. Mr Gilani , being the Prime Minister of Pakistan, has failed to punish their murderers.
He has failed to find the people responsible for the killing of Benazir Bhutto. He has failed to provide people with the basic necessities of life. And I can’t receive my graduation degree from a failure, no matter how respectable he is in the eyes of these ‘art bureaucrats’.
Lets replace him with those architects of society who have been suffering since ever in this land of the pure.
Where are those blood-spitting artists? I want them to award me the degree.
Where are those hunger-stricken poets? I want them to award me the degree.
Where are those revolutionaries who got tortured in Zia’s era? I want them to award me the degree.
My art is dedicated to the people’s cause and I don’t need any Prime Minister to prove my art.
I would rather choose what Faiz said once:
My heart, my fellow traveller
It has been decreed again
That you and I be exiled




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