Unit 2 — Reflection and Presentation
The Unit brief was as follows: MAVA Fine Art Digital Unit 2 Year 2 201819 assessment brief (2)
LO1 : Present a resolved body of original creative practice that has evidenced the
systematic enhancement of your knowledge and understanding
(communication and presentation; technical competence; personal and professional
development; subject knowledge; research; experimentation):
I started this MA with a vague idea that I wanted to explore contemporary manifestations of narrative art. This desire was muddied with inspiration from my surroundings; Jeddah, a desert with its own unique history and culture, with its own strange limitations. Unit 1 found me exploring, not just stepping out to discover Jeddah, but travelling back home to rediscover Karachi, interspersed with travel to other, foreign, countries. I had set aside traditional ideas of narratives (such as my writing) and gone in search of something more, something unusual. And at the end of Unit 1, I found it.
That discovery was due to several aspects of Unit 1 including the evolution of my project proposal, research for my research paper, several projects I conducted in Pakistan and an ongoing experimentation in studio. As Unit 2 began, I was on the verge of an epiphany. The health issues I encountered in December 2018 threatened to slow me down, but I pushed through and was gratified with the result.
These events represented the perfect culmination of this project, and its winding narrative. I hesitate to refer to it as an end, because I definitely don’t see it that way. Karachi, and Jeddah have definitely not seen the last of The Untold Edition. I did consider these events (along with the exhibitions and other events I was a part of in Jeddah, which are linked in LO2) as a form of resolution of one aspect of my project proposal.
Meanwhile, in studio, my experiments with fluid art led me to resin. Inspired by the glass and metal oxide work of Louis Comfort Tiffany I saw at the MET, I wanted molten glass to be my fluid element. But, once again, the strange restrictions in Jeddah, a place with not a single glass blowing studio, meant I had to find an alternative way to create translucent, glimmering layers. I landed on resin to create a professional body of work, though I did use a microwave kiln for rudimentary experiments fusing shards of glass.
At the same time something I had begun to realize in Unit 1 was affirmed. My practice was a mosaic of different elements and I was learning to accept that various forms of art could be interspersed to create a unique whole.
Visiting for the Low Residency was an important precursor to taking the next step towards a resolved body of practice. Meeting my colleagues in person, working with them side by side, and learning from them in real life, gave me a lot of perspective. It was my first time travelling to London since 1998 and there were certain challenges associated with it, but it was an enlightening and inspiring experience which made me certain that I would overcome any and all obstacles to be there for the final show.
The research discussion video, as well as Symposium 2 and the group tutorial session on 13th June, all helped me think about and communicate my process in a succinct way. With the time constraint in the video, or in class, I was forced to distill my practice down to the essential elements, and the purpose that propelled them. This was a vital tool in helping me organize my thoughts for the final show.
Even though I had highlighted the important processes that constituted my practice, there was still a challenge in presenting a final body of work in London. Travelling from abroad for a short period of time created some restrictions as to what could be presented, keeping in mind show install and take down, not to mention we had to present individual work in a highly collaborative setting. Brainstorming to perfect the idea, along with the tutorial and several sessions with Jonathan helped me finalize the plan.
I feel like my three part installation represents a cohesive and final resolution of my project proposal, with many interesting strands to follow in the years following this MA.
LO2 : Analyse and critically reflect coherently upon your own practice and its context (research; analysis; personal and professional development).
Unit 2 also represented my exploration of the context of my practice; its roots in middle eastern heritage and its inspiration in contemporary abstract art.
Throughout Unit 1 I had steered myself on social media platforms, striving to achieve a balance that made this digital interaction meaningful, with Unit 2, I achieved that balance, which allowed me to use these platforms as a tool, as something that does not dictate my life. At the end of this timeframe, I saw an organic growth in my social media stats without having to compromise on my belief that such platforms should not take over minds and lives, which was rewarding.
Instagram: 2658 followers
Facebook: 8408 likes, 8500 follows, 11900 post reach
I also applied to several prizes/competitions with the following agenda
- There are few such prizes available in Jeddah, and I wanted to push my boundaries and apply to international ones instead
- Each such prize/competition served as a project deadline for me to produce new work, giving me a productive pace to create work
- I did not succeed in any of the applications either in Unit 1 or Unit 2, (except for being shortlisted for the Karachi Biennale Emerging Artists prize), but they each helped me learn a lot about what is required when sending your artwork into the international arena, as well as the pitfalls of applying to specific contests in terms of the fact that your artwork has to coincide very closely with exactly what they were looking for, and it is not always best for you to conform to that.
While these contests represented a setback, it was balanced by success in another direction. My exploration within Jeddah finally opened several doors and I found myself thrust in the midst of some extremely interesting projects, invited as guest speaker at several places and invited to exhibit my work.
Ultimately, stepping out of my comfort zone on social media, in Jeddah and in applying to these competitions became a great source of learning, reflecting and critically analyzing my practice. It helped me not only realize the components of my project proposal that would come together in my final show, but also, helped me chalk out a plan for the near and far future.
LO3 : Summarise and evaluate your overall progress and formulate a constructive
plan for continuing Personal and Professional Development (personal and
professional development; collaborative and/or independent professional working).
The best way I can describe this MA is as a journey of self-discovery. Staring with a high degree of uncertainty, the step by step evolution of a project proposal and the structure of this course helped me iteratively realize not only what my dreams were, but how I could achieve them.
Pushing past the barriers posed by Jeddah, constant traveling and the social media world helped me learn about my strengths and the frequent feedback helped me gain confidence. As this MA draws to a close, I feel I have firmly entrenched myself in the areas I intend to continue exploring and I have developed not only a high standard of working, but more importantly a belief in myself that inspires me to keep going.
My critical evaluation summarises the learning, the highlights of my experience and an idea of future directions.
One of the key things I understood about myself throughout this journey was, I have a deep rooted love for all kinds of narrative art. I learnt to embrace the writer in me, as much as the artist and curator in me.
As Jonathan said in an earlier tutorial, a good place to be at the end of the MA is ‘uncertain’. Resolution of our project proposal does not signify an end but rather a bend in our current path which should, ideally, branch off into several more paths. Brainstorming in the posts above, I outlined the paths I intend to follow in the next few years, though I recognize that the possibilities are endless. This MA has left me with a great understanding of myself and my inspirations and that will very likely fuel my work for a very long time.