Shezad Dawood’s Top 5 Quotes from Karachi Biennale 2022 Artist Talk

Unveiled as one of the artists to be presented in the upcoming Karachi Biennale 2022, Shezad Dawood sat down with the Biennale curatorial team on a fine Friday evening (on Zoom, of course, to cover the great distance between Pakistan and England) and had a little talk about his life, work, and inspirations. It started from the word ‘complexity’ in the very nature of being, in linguistics, in society, in the environment etc, and the duality that is ever-present in each and every single atom in the known world. 

Shezad Dawood with his artwork
Picture Credits: Bagri Foundation

Dawood’s practice, to the extent of my knowledge, was always rooted in the dichotomy of societal and ancestral individuality, better understood with the following questions: ‘Who am I? Where do I come from? I do not know and I will proudly embrace this confusing category of both notoriety and anonymity.’ The dichotomy still prevails in his more recent work that involves virtual reality headsets and the infinite space to create. 

Dawood’s more recent work that involves virtual reality headsets and the infinite space to create

Partnering with scientists, astronomers, environmentalists, tech companies and marine biologists, Shezad Dawood gave a sneak peak into the work he’ll be displaying for the Karachi Biennale this year. He didn’t give away much, only that it will be absolutely spectacular.

Listed below are only some of his most notable quotes from the talk: 

  1. I spent more times on the floor than the shelves and shelves of books.Dawood talked about his work from the second Lahore Biennale in February 2020 (before everything went downhill), for which he drew inspiration from the architecture of the Ferozsons Bookstore on Mall Road. The building is one of the oldest in the area and the years make themselves known through the several mending and upkeep processes leaving their distinct marks on the structure.
  2. The archive is as objective as the person archiving it.The artist reminding the readers that no fracture of historical or artistic data is void of personal feelings or opinions in representing or considering facts. This pearl of wisdom often gets lost in the intrepidness of a researcher. 
  3. I feel somewhat of an alien whenever I come to Pakistan. How do we dissolve these categories or do we even need to?Dawood experimented with the idea of having ‘international waters’ as a space for all, where no nationality, ethnicity, social standing, career, family, religion or caste matters, and where his recurring theme of a dichotomy ceases to exist. This leads him to research more on a phenomenon he classifies as ‘post-humanity’, where all differences perhaps cease to exist. 
  4. I’m on an equal level with my audience. We’re taking the journey together.On his upcoming work for KB22, the artist discloses that he himself will be a member of the audience that will watch the unveiling and admits that the unpredictability will be thrilling. Practically drooling, we cannot wait for this biennale. 
  5. I don’t think the earth is beyond redemption. I think we are beyond redemption.As chilling as this sentence might sound, there is a ring of truth to it, is there not? Recognising the cold hard facts straight from the environmentalists’ mouths, Shezad Dawood aims to redirect his audience towards the ongoing degradation of our planet’s ecosystems and the countless lifeforms it sustains. That too, with the help of VR technology, and the adamant configuration: ‘why tell your audience when you can show them?’ 
Encroachments (VR), 2019
Video Credits: You Tube

Artist, critic and a self proclaimed historian. I write about the this and thats, odds and ends, and etceteras of the art world.

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