Ramla Fatima, Pakistan

Residency Period: August 1, 2016 - July 31, 2017 (extended from January 31)


Bio

Ramla Fatima graduated from N.C.A national college of arts in February 2015 with major in sculpture and minor in print making and digital arts. She has participated in a few group shows around the country. She has also been selected for two artist residencies: ”B.Q (binqalandar artist residency) and VASAL international artist residency, Karachi. She currently lives and practices in Pakistan.

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On-hiatus Proposal Summary

As a fresh graduate with just two years of practice, Ramla’s art career may appear to be on the right track – graduated from the National College of Arts, participated in an exhibition, left for an artist residency, came back and exhibited in a number of group shows, again left for a residency – the path desired and considered as successful by many of her fellow graduates.

She is however not satisfied with all this, feeling confused and having difficulty understanding the professional art circle. She does not want her artistic career to run on the usual trajectory of group shows, solo shows, residencies, and biennales etc. She wants to take a path which no one has ever followed. When she came back from her last residency, she started looking for another which would give her a new dimension and fresh perspective to her art career, but to her disappointment, all the residencies are running very similar programmes. Then she found RFAOH, which she thinks is the exact thing she was looking for and simply wanted to be part of it.

For her on-hiatus residency at RFAOH, she does not want to propose anything. She wants to sit back and think of “tasks” that are not related to her work as a sculptor; she might write a book on the issue of “the art circle in an artist’s life”. She wants to give her career a new start. She wants to begin this residency with her mind as a blank canvas.


Final Report

Even before my hiatus period during my BFA I use to think why do artists reject the art world and say goodbye to all that? I had heard about various artists who have withdrawn from the art world or adopted an antagonistic position towards its mechanisms. I was very eager to know about the problematic relationship of artists to the art world. Now when I myself have been through all this initially i have played with the system, struggled against it and then finally have walked away altogether. Three years later, through no effort of my own, I was invited to exhibit in a number of group shows at quite popular art galleries. A few months later, a well-established gallery offered me a solo show. Miraculously, I found myself back in business. I went back into my studio. My new body of work garnered some positive reviews and a few sales. Then, work got difficult. Instead of providing an incentive recognition paralyzed me. I felt a sense of social responsibility and competition that I hadn’t when I was just making art for myself. Then, a year after that show, I was considering quitting art.

My journey toward hiatus began as soon as my career had started taking off. I decided to stop making art and walked away in dissatisfaction. I was successful enough and was receiving enough recognition of my work but surprisingly was not contented enough. I was so confused and was blindly following the usual pattern of a successful career as always told by our teachers throughout our four years of academic career i.e. 

 Pass with distinction
 Exhibit all over the country
 Be a part of national and international residencies
 Solo show

Wow, sounds great till you haven’t achieved all this. But what’s next. After going through all these stages the most difficult part is continuing as an artist. And I was unable to continue art. I always needed a stimulus in a form of a deadline of exhibition, in the form of being selected for a residency or I did art to just compete with my fellow graduates. Inside me it was all empty. It was so depressing when I realized that perhaps I am not an artist. I started having difficulty speaking to people about my work and was so tortured by the feeling that my work is inadequate. I was unable to be a part of this rat race any more. I had started avoiding exhibitions and sales. Perhaps the biggest reason for not being able to continue art was that I can not mess with art. For me it is something very personal, pure and full of feelings. I was unable to use it as business. I can’t sell art. I can’t make art for galleries. I can’t do commissioned works. I seem to be an insult to art in my view point. For me a piece of art is so damn personal that I wanted to keep it to myself. I don’t want to discuss with other people to judge it whether it is resolved or not. I don’t want to exhibit in the gallery to be liked or disliked by the visitors. I don’t want art critiques to pass judgments on my work. It is something what I feel. For me art is the tangible form of my feelings. And at times it could be just intangible like a sound piece. In art we are taught not to exhibit first-hand information. You have to incorporate your creativity in it. But I don’t think so. I would love to pick up random objects from the street. The abandoned objects like a worn out pair of shoes and for me it is a complete piece of art. It is beautiful enough to be exhibited in the gallery. It is resolved enough to be accepted as an art piece. It is fair enough to be the portal of my feelings or the portrayal of the feelings of the person who had probably thrown it out in the street. I can relate to it so much. I don’t know why nobody else can relate to it. And I think it’s completely fine if other people cannot relate to it. Is it a mathematical formula or a rule of gravity that has to be universal? I don’t want to paint that pair of shoes just to make it beautiful enough to be exhibited in the gallery. I don’t want to incorporate two three more objects with it just to make it a so called resolved art piece.

So I took a break and have realized that I don’t mind doing a job which does not involve art to earn money. But I can’t sell art for my survival. Even if I want to sell my pair of shoes as an art piece who is going to buy it? Who is going to exhibit it in his gallery? So, I have started working in an event management office where I had to work on thousands of things but not art. Thank god I was so happy. I was so glad. But now I think I need a break from this as well. It’s a human nature your mind at times needs rest. This is something that I have now realized that it is something very natural and you don’t have to worry about it. And I am taking it very easy. But I was quite sensitive for the break from art. I was like I am not an artist I was led by a mistaken ambition.

My experience of RFAOH was great. I highly recommend and support this initiative because there are thousands of opportunities and platforms for practicing artists but there are hardly a few or may be it is the only platform for the artists who are on hiatus for some reason. Art is a fantasy while real life is a bit different from this fantasy world. While being on RFAOH it allows one to continue with his/her practical life and at the same time you can go back to your fantasy world without any pressure of making art or competing with the art world. Unlike the other residencies where you have to just quit your normal daily life routine and go and live in a strange environment with a number of other strangers with a hell of pressure of making art. Though it is thought that artist residencies provide a break from art to the artists but unfortunately it is not true in most cases. I have written a number of proposals to a number of well-known artist residencies in which I have mentioned that I do not want to come up with a preconceived idea or a project. I want to come and explore and then ill sort out what to make. Or maybe I just want to come to refresh my mind and might come up with not even a single art piece at the end of the day or maybe I only want to do research.

I am currently leaving for Iran to visit Religious Sites. I hope I'll come up with better plans of not making art.


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recent comments

On Aug 4 2017, ramla fatima commented on Let your creative nature shine through: @ co-directors lol no, you does not sounds like a horoscope person infact you sounds exactly like w[...]

On Aug 4 2017, ramla fatima commented on Let your creative nature shine through: thank you so much mohamed for sharing your views. it means a lot. it always feels great to get to kn[...]

On Jul 29 2017, mohamed @ moonfarm commented on Let your creative nature shine through: selaams Ramla (the universe in a grain of sand?), As this year's hiatus is sadly coming to a close,[...]

On Jul 25 2017, co-directors (s) commented on Let your creative nature shine through: Ramla, I also feel being in the arts is being forever confused, about your decisions and desires, ab[...]

On Jun 22 2017, co-director (m) commented on On Hiathus: The best part of hiatus is that its an open ended concept. Its like a non-declaration declaration. I[...]


on roll_camera_action

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Here is the sneak peek of my current project. What to do else than art was a difficult question. Then certainly i have got this opportunity to be a part of a short documentary.
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I have been working with three documentary filmmakers currently in the International Film Exchange program sponsored by the U.S. State Department through the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and administered through the Humpty Dumpty Institute. The program trains emerging Pakistani filmmakers and funds the creation of short social issue documentaries on important topics in Pakistan.

I along with Kanzul Fatima, Jawad Sharif and Zeeshan Younas, working together on a groundbreaking film studying the effects of trauma on mental health. I have been featured in this documentary as a subject (a remarkable young artist whose father was kidnapped and to date there has been no word of him). I have agreed to discuss the effects of this trauma, the ways that I have expressed myself through my art and the steps me and my family are taking to move forward towards healing. This team of filmmakers is very talented, supporting and committed to tell this important story of my life.
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SHOOTING INTERVIEW AT KASHMIR
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STUDIO CLICKS
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Although the filmmakers are not being paid for their work, the film’s expenses are covered by the program. The program also includes funds to distribute the films, to create a permanent website with supporting materials, as well as showcasing the films in the United States and entering them in major international film festivals.
I am looking forward to showing you the finished film early in the New Year as it would be my biggest project of my on hiatus activities other than art.

Leave a Comment (4)

Wayne Lim wrote on Jan 21:

Woah! Tricky business here I sense: "...three documentary filmmakers currently in the International Film Exchange program sponsored by the U.S. State Department through the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad".

co-director (s) wrote on Nov 22:

If you haven't yet, you might be very interested in reading about our 2014/15 resident Heather Kapplow, a conceptual artist with no formal training -- http://residencyforartistsonhiatus.org/past-residents/heather_kapplow/

"As a self taught artist who works conceptually, Heather sometimes struggles to identify when she is making art and when she is doing something else. During her residency at RFAOH, she wants to spend time exploring the boundary between making art and not making art..."

Ramla Fatima wrote on Nov 22:

Thank you and yes of-course i will definitely share the final product with you all. For as long as i can remember i always wanted to just quit art just not to do art but each time i certainly start realizing that it unintentionally becomes a part of your every project in one way or the other. While i was working on this documentary with three other filmmakers i observed that this documentary (though i thought is not an art project) itself became an art piece. We treated it exactly the way we use to treat our sculpture piece. We conceived an idea, reformed it, filmed it in a very artistic and creative approach and even while we were doing post production work, we have worked on its every inch. Since i joined this residency each time i sit back and think not to post something that is related to "ART" but it is just impossible to detach this word from my life even though i am not practicing it in a formal way but i think it is a part of my life while shooting a documentary or even when i am at work. Just to escape from the art circle i have started working with the corporate sector. and its been just two weeks and i have realized that it still makes a part of every design or presentation i make for the " event management company" with which i am currently working. I have two more colleagues with me from banking and engineering background. But my aesthetics are very much different from them. Of course when you are trained in a certain way for the last 6 years you have developed a certain mind set and it depicts in your work even if it is not a "work of art". I think i have not stopped practicing art but have only tried to change the direction so far.

co-director (s) wrote on Nov 21:

This sounds fascinating and touching, Ramla. How amazing to have a range of artists on hiatus here, and our average relation to the world usually formed through news sources become somewhat affected. Best of luck with it and look forward to the end result. (Actors may argue that being the subject in a film isn't art though (: )