20 feet to 20 inches
“Ramla, where do you store this stuff? I look at your past work and these thoughts return that I always have when I see these sprawling material practices. Questions of logistics? How does the artist store this, or move this from place to place, what are the histories of all these elements, how did they end up in your possession and part of an artwork.” Co-director wrote on September, 3 made me think about it. I have been ignoring this for so long because the answer to this question digs something from my past, which for some reason I don’t feel free to talk about. Yes it is a sad fact; it is one of the main reasons of me as an artist being on hiatus. Quitting or taking a break from art was not that easy. But I took this decision for many reasons.
I end up with my thesis project with a lot of appreciation. But sadly it was just the appreciation. It took me more than two months to build this huge piece, a lot of budget, a lot of manpower, uncountable sleepless nights, a number of restless days but this all ended up with just appreciation.
Nobody buys large scale sculptures, no gallery around the country unfortunately have that much space to exhibit huge work. A few of them who can, they probably don’t want to get into this mess of keeping large scale sculptures, the hassle of their transportation and installation.
After two weeks of thesis display I have to move back my work to my home. Luckily I have got a storage space which 90% of the artists don’t have actually. So I wasn’t that unfortunate. Anyways I have to hire a crane to move the iron armature of my work right from the college to my home. It took me and my friends five days to dismantle all the work, pack it up and load it in a truck separately in addition to the crane.
After that whenever I have written proposal for large scale installation to a gallery, nobody gave me a positive response. Eleven months back a gallery owner called me because she wanted me to put up my thesis project in an upcoming show. So, the whole process started again. Though have took one month this time, hired crane, labor, truck, have loaded my work, reached gallery, installed, got appreciated, dismantled the piece again, got home with the piece again.
Then I sit back and realized I seriously have no energy and money for all this now. I was heartbroken I have decided to quit. I started a 9am-5pm job at a software house on less than 150$. That was my first salary. I was happy because I have not earned, not even a single dollar from my art ever. But the happiness did not last long. I kept regretting of quitting art. Then I found a way out. I found an escape in digital art. Thought I was trailed as a sculptor but I have realized that my work could be transformed into photo collage and digital manipulation of my work. I kept documenting random objects on streets and roads and started producing digital work. I was glad that I have tried a new medium. But inside me my own whole world was just grey. I was doing it forcefully. That was not my way of working. I was a sculptor an installation artist. I was born to produce huge and large scale sculptures. So the journey of squeezing 20 feet sculptures to 20 inches digital prints came to an end. I end up with nothing but with a conclusion not to produce art anymore….. unless I find a gallery who could support me in shipping my work at least, unless I find a museum ready to take my work in their permanent collection, unless a find an art collector ready to keep large scale sculptures, unless I find something more than appreciation.