Sometimes I am so hell-bent on my own agenda that I completely miss the things that surround me.
We arrived in Karachi less than12 hours ago and went straight into organisation mode. Phone calls, meetings to set up, rushed smiles and Salams. Wrapped in head-scarves, my film-making travelling companion and I dashed an hour across town and we found ourselves talking to Fine Art and Film students at Karachi University before I realised I hadn’t had a nights sleep. My urgency seemed to take them by surprise. Although the Karachi streets are a busy throng, there is still something calmer, and more laid back that my own rush-hour approach. Friendships nurtured. Something a tutor said to me last week clicked into place. Why don’t I slow down, take things in a little, reflect and allow things to wash over me. Obsessed with “doing” I can become blinkered and entirely miss the point or what it means to be an artist (to look).
So yes, I will still quietly seek the matching participants for my Cambridge Karachi Portrait – but if I don’t find them, I can be assured that I have already met a number of remarkable people – who might not “fit the mould” but have just as much to say in a gesture. Some initial reflections:
The airport: Big family welcomes and laughter. Gifts of flowers, garlands, petals on the floor. An old man delighted with a reunion.
Taking a photo of Ameena’s henna’d hands
A pretty shy girl shows me pieces for her final year art show. Spikes on a baby’s bottle, lipstick and cigarettes.
That film-star look, with native American tattoos amidst a sea of chattering students.
So even if the plan seems utterly enthralling, perhaps a more genuine and gentle means of engaging with the world around me needs to happen. Ironic perhaps that unravelling the agenda hell-bent-ness of the media is a preoccupation.
Tomorrow photos, only photos.