The young graduate from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Jovita Alvares, won the Imran Mir Art Prize on Monday evening at an event organised by the Board of Trustees of Imran Mir Art Foundation (IMAF).
The programme was part of the second cycle of the prize. Ms Veera Rustomjee had an honourable mention.
Welcoming the guests, Chairperson IMAF Nighat Mir said Imran Mir was a very simple man with simple ambitions. He liked to help and encourage people. He used to say that there was no room for mediocrity in this world therefore one had to excel in what one did.
Ms Nighat Mir said we (the foundation) were trying to encourage artists, especially the younger ones and give them an opportunity and a platform. This year, she told the audience, they had a wonderful set of applicants.
Ms Mir said we wanted to do something about Imran Mir and what he was passionate about. Since he was passionate about art and printing books, so somewhere along the line the foundation would print books on art and monographs etc. We were going through trying times in our country. We needed this kind of activity to restore some sanity and balance in society.
The host of the programme, Aziz Sohail, said this year the application process was very competitive. There were over 40 applications and the award was open to artists only from Karachi under the age of 35. The reason for this was that the organisers wanted to begin from the place where Imran Mir was based. The jury comprised renowned critics and writers Dr Iftikhar Dadi, Simone Wille and Saira Ansari. He then invited Veera Rustomjee to get her certificate from Ms Nighat Mir. Then Durriya Kazi and Shahid Abdulla gave the Imran Mir Prize to Jovita Alvares. After that Prof Jawaid Haider read out a formal introduction of Ms Alvares.
The second part of the programme was a conversation with the artist moderated by Seher Naveed. It was nice to hear Ms Alvares keeping things simple even when the moderator tried to elicit philosophical responses from her. Her first question was about how she began work and why she focused on Karachi Cantt. Ms Alvares said she used to walk around in her area with a video camera; because of security reasons she would be on her bike. She had lived in that area all her life and wanted to explore it. Also, it was easier for her to go back and forth.
Her methodology was to grab footage on her video camera while walking or when riding her bike. She was interested in the Cantt area because she wanted to show the everyday, mundane side of it, because when you thought of the area you thought of a certain political implication; on the other hand she found out, after living and moving around in the area, there were very normal things happening there. That’s what she wanted to show.
On her choice of medium (of using stills rather than footage) Ms Alvares said when she started shooting she realised that the videos had a beginning and an end, whereas she wanted a better visual display.