Red Light Area

LFAA (Lyallpur Fine Art Advisory) in collaboration with Haam Gallery has put up a show called “Red Light Area” curated by Muhammad Awab Nouman with support from assistant curator Mahjabeen Shakeel. The show opens on the 16th of December and continues through to December 23, 2022. LFAA is a project of Her Pink Wine, since its inception LFAA has worked remotely with artists from all kinds of distinct places, their motto being, providing transparent awareness, and helping to reduce the victims of miscommunication and misrepresentation through the many different artistic endeavours they have initiated. 

The “Red Light Area” as it sounds is a provocative collaboration with creatives and organizations. This marriage which we usually call an exhibition is something that has its rules and traditions which make it work as a system. The catch here is that the show is all about breaking the boundaries of an institutionalized marriage between an artist and a gallery. For starters, the gallery’s walls have been painted red to eliminate the white cube. The name itself has been utilized as propaganda, the show talks about stuff that isn’t allowed to be talked about, instead of having different mediums the artist could define his art in, the whole show has turned into a giant installation, where paradoxically the individual nature of an artwork breaks just like the gallery’s ethos. The curator’s note states “As a consequence of adhering to a rigid way of functioning; the spaces, curators, and artists are trapped in a bubble that is disconnected from other departments of human knowledge.” There is a clear indication of finding a way out of this supposed rigidness in the works that have been displayed in a make-believe red light area. 

A total of 12 artists, their names being Abdul Raffay- Ali Shariq Jamali- Amna Suheyl- Arfa Shan- Ayesha Maheen- Jawaria Nawaz- Qasim Ali Hussain- Rabia Nasir- Sidra Saleem- Zainab Burhan- Zainab Hussain- Zoha Zafar Malik have participated, their concerns overlapping as they should in a group exhibition. 

The artists have explored themes ranging from the reinvention of being to paradoxes to a feminine experience. Visually one is pleased to have so many different encounters where the functionality of a gallery experience is transformed into a dialogue of identity, artist’s concern, and new conversations. The gist is that a space or a system can’t allow a free flow of ideas and therefore the system has to be morphed or reinvented to fulfil its unsaid promise to provide a platform for the unrestricted artistic voice. In this regard, the show seems to be a step forward in adding to the discourse of censorship and art’s standing in public places. Overall the space allows multiple concerns to coexist and have a conversation where the dichotomy is complementing the show’s aim to make a comment. 

Paradox is one common theme stringing all the works made for this exhibition, be it a collage or a light and video installation, the beauty of bringing a diverse range of artists has allowed us to see multiple perspectives of why eventually the human existence with all its baggage and meaning is always reduced to a paradox. In the end, my takeaway from this show is that one should never go to an art show expecting to find an answer, rather one is invited to find one’s self in the questions that have been put forward. 

A writer and a visual artist located in Lahore, Mariam Waheed’s love for creative expression is inspired by observation and appreciation of all life forms.

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