Kashmir Crossover Conference

Photo Source: Kashmir Art Quest

By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Up Front

What more good if a place is bestowed with creative professionals. 

Art is a quest for giving pleasure to the soul. It manifests cultures, tastes, imaginations, testimonials in superior forms of creativity. Taking perceptions of the world regarding the role of art,  Kashmir Art Quest, a novelty face in recognition of art in Kashmir has been doing some credible work as well, and its recognition has touched internationally.

 The revival of art in Kashmir got recognition gradients in Kashmir with Quest for Finest artists in Kashmir (Season I and II), where more than 100 artists displayed more than 550 forms of artwork. Since then, five more festivals have been showcased which aimed to revitalise the delegacy of the organisation, as an entity to archetype a cultural evolution in Kashmir.

The brainchild of Kashmir Art Quest, Syed Mujtaba Rizvi calls his initiative as ‘an alternative breathing space’ and provides explanations on the necessity of cultural awareness of art and its genesis in our conflict-ridden land: “we believe that we create a progressive culture as such the denial due to conflict itself gets negated and raise the standards so much so that the purpose of addressing the conflict-related issues are automatically served, and to break through the chains of trauma and create for ourselves the progressive social sphere of rights and opportunities based on free will, innovation, experimentation and continuously challenging and accepting criticism on righteous grounds.”

 The biggest achievement in the ontogenesis of Kashmir’s art revival in recent times came through international collaboration of its members with the Northwest Missouri State University where the organisation successfully claimed connections with its Art Faculty  – the outcome got materialised as Kashmir Crossover, as a platform representing gamut of art genres from Kashmir, and in rendering cognition of artistic forms from the valley at an international stage. The American participants also showcased their artistic talent and its outcomes were discussed by foreign participants. Kashmir Crossover conference was based in Ibn Khaldun auditorium at the University of Kashmir, and the exhibition discourse has proved as a first cross-cultural interaction between Kashmir and United States through a Skype conference, as a nascent initiative towards art development.

 On March 14, 2013, Kashmir Crossover made further advances with another international conference with Syed Mujtaba Rizvi, its convenor, acting as a moderator from London, and its administrator, Adil Abbas representing KAQ from Northwest Missouri University. Other luminaries included the acclaimed cartoonist and filmmaker from Kashmir,  Malik Sajad and a young journalist, Uzma Falak. Fasil Dar and Ahmer Khan were assigned as co-ordinators from Kashmir. Rachel Hicks represented the American audience comprising of several artists. The panellists exchanged ideas about art - as a transmitter of human feelings through graphical imageries and plastic art, its perpetual experiences felt by artists in Kashmir through social media broadcasting by Google Hangout.

 The debate about cross-cultural art was productive and engaging. For Mujtaba, the discussion of art revolved around certain passions as a form of liberation, and for this reason, he argued about giving leniency to artists in his exhibitions, carrying variant themes. This notion of his carries affirmation because there have been many acclaimed artists in Kashmir, especially artists from the older generation like Masood Hussain and Iftikhar Jaffar. 

For him, the necessity of art revival organisations in age like today carries significance because the scope of exhibitions in Kashmir has been practically nil for many years, especially in showcasing reservoir of art products created by popular artists mentioned. For Sajad, the discourse revolved around art as a pursuit in attaining distinctiveness, where he wants to explore themes revolving around the conflict, with motifs derived from war including  a relationship between a father and a son, or his popular graphical novella character, Hangul (an allegoric endangered stag representing a Kashmiri living amidst subjugation). Uzma gave her perceptions about living in Srinagar and New Delhi as a Kashmiri, whose identity is chased as hostile by a State which claims to emancipate the same people – and why the genesis of art is important in Kashmir, and the need for discussion of art forms.

As commentators of international art developments emerging through globally aware Kashmiri organisers, we should vouch on these lines because art doesn’t likely permeate into a conflict as pacification, but it rather ruminates the conflict through awareness. “Everyone wants to understand art,” Pablo Picasso said. 

As a youth or acolytes of art, we can ask questions regarding its truism as believed by Picasso. When we relate this to Kashmir, we need to understand the historic influence of various cultures, traditions and civilisations on our psyche, and how the prowess of artistic creation in Kashmir has developed by plunging into these variant subject matters that induce local as well as international art lovers into thinking.


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