Jahanzeb Haroon

Final Project Statement:

Two cubes in a bubble

This project’s roots lie in my previous midterm project which dealt with memory, communication, space, and distance. While also keeping the same aesthetic quality in mind – multiple translucent layers and the narrative which such overlaps create.
However I chose to explore the medium of video for this final project and with the change in medium, a little diversion in my conceptual concern, yet still utilizing the element of space as the driving force. This particular project primarily deals with the idea of solipsism, a supposedly irrational concept theorizing that everything and every other person is a projection of oneself. In a more applied sense solipsism is strongly tied with subjectivity and highlights the limitation of the subjective perspective that we are all bound by i.e. our internal worlds determine all our future, current, and even our past experiences. It is this particular aspect of our existence that fascinates me and one which I am striving to explore in this project.

Final Reading Response:

Reading the excerpt ‘The Blue of Distance’ from “A Field Guide to Getting Lost” by Rebecca Solnit. I couldn’t help but think of the preciousness of the pigment blue, of how cherished and difficult it was to obtain lapis lazuli, how it used to be reserved for final embellishments and for the masterpieces to be created in the medieval times and the following renaissance, its importance not lost even much after. Solnit attributes the color blue with the quality of longing, on a personal level it’s a feeling that I find tied with preciousness, for it has been a creative source of many, producing works which have entered the hall of the classics.

However the longer I ponder over it the more ‘longing’ seem to be an ethereal emotion; ungraspable and undefinable. It plays on our imagination of what may be, at times even defining our own very nature. For example in religion, the concept of heaven; the promise of a place of absolute perfection, full of love and the longing to reach this place, it defines our morality, defines the character of the righteous. ‘The blue of distance’ has the ability to command our behavior.

The mystified horizon painted before us creates our path. It could be something as simple as learning new words, with its promise of unexplored expression but how many learners actually do use them on a daily basis, or it could be the aspiration to travel into space, which when one does reach, may no longer hold the same magic, bogged down by the technical considerations going on in the mind for a successful mission. It could be something as beautiful as the first kiss, which ironically can be the sloppiest or on the opposite spectrum the suicide bombers who believe in the complete absolution in the hereafter, absolutely blind to the devastation of the lives, because of them, which they leave behind. ‘The blue of distance’ defines us from the moment we come into this world, till we don’t. Even on our last breath, there is a longing of all those desired objects that remained elusive, there is a longing in the form of our memories – memories which in themselves are not necessarily representative of anything but the memories themselves.


In the distance lies the illusion;

the memory of things that never be,

the memory of houses and people,

of pets and places,

memories of things I longed to be,

perhaps a tree,

a bird or sea.

In the distance,

I am me,

I am the bird,

I am the sea,

I am whoever I want to be.

But when the memories and illusion meet,

I cannot, be.     

Mid-Term Project: 

The project started with an exploration of the similarities between Pakistan and Italy, specifically Lahore and Siena. The point of convergence where these similarities would be express was through me, particularly my routine, focusing on the commute from the house to the college (studio).

This being the basis for the project, I have strived to explore many more layers, not necessarily dealing with the subject at hand – to see memories as malleable and depict that visually, to comment on the brittle nature of sharing experiences i.e. How we, mostly, on a general day to day basis take the shared narration of someone experience as factual and objective. While on such a normative level these things don’t necessarily matter, they do have an impact when it comes to crucial matters. This stems from my own interest in human subjectivity; its quirks, limitations and its imperativeness in making each of us unique.

“What Art is and What Artists Do” reading response: 

Art is an expression. It can be loud and strong, shocking or not. It can be mute and docile, submissive and passive, but can it really change the world?

Perhaps by proxy, by happenstance or as Jerry Saltz’s puts it “by osmosis”. Perhaps it can make a stronger difference in retrospect, given an elevated status in the writings of history books by those who feel strongly. Art is to the artist, what therapy is to a patient. An artist is – the lunatic on the street screaming for a better tomorrow or about his own ramblings, in the hope that somebody will walk by, find it relatable, at some level, and decide to call it their own.

It’s a rather dim view, especially considering that I too aspire to become an artist. However, ironically, the most prolific of people have been called out to be crazy. For they had the vision to foresee and think outside the confines of the general norm of the time. These crackpots were able to step outside of themselves and outside of the society, to try to garner a broader perspective.

The above is the pacifying explanation most lunatics like to internalize, to justify their existence. The pure geniuses are still diamonds amongst carbon. Yet like diamonds, easily available, so are the artist; like diamonds made in labs, produced under strict specifications, so is the saturated world or arts; with creative minds who think alike. Those who don’t, even their opinions perfectly crafted by institutions.

Art is what the artist makes, in the best circumstances the artist makes what he strongly feels about. It is his creation, his world. An act of bravery to put oneself openly out there for the rest. To voice what affects the creator and how it may be affecting the society. Art is to an artist a channel to dwell deeper into themselves and thus to an empathic understanding of those around them.  At times providing an escape into utopia, or to highlight the degeneration. To become aware and try to make aware or so is my naïve romanticized ideation of the arts and artist.

“Shape of a Walk” reading response: 

To walk has been a calling for me for the past 8 years, at times I have complied but mostly not. Thus my lack of empathic understanding towards the experience and art made on it. The poetics of walking as art, however, are not lost. I do find beauty in traversing a path that may not necessarily lead to a goal, that isn’t to say it is a purposeless meandering. In my own experience, walking has been a grounding act, meditative in its own right – those initial few steps, have a way of forcing you into a state of reflection, starting with the most recent and fleeting of moments to those that dwell deeper as the journey progresses, before you come to a point of mental clarity and silence, a state where you just humbly absorb and accept your environment.

For me walking has a goal; to reach that point of clarity where you can see the subtle. The flickering, slipping, ignorable moments which seem to end in the blink of an eye. To see the escapable beauty of our existence, in nature and urban. Walking are my initial strokes of the brush, during which I paint with my eyes, on the imaginative canvas at the back of my mind.

On a universal level, walking in the time of cars, motorcycles, jet planes, ships, progressively bigger bandwidth internet and our neurotic obsession with faster, quicker, sooner may seem as primitive as the cave painting. However, it is something that traverses time, this simple and most natural of acts connects us with not only the other land dominant species but allows us to follow the footsteps of those before us. This is especially true for cities like Siena which have become a UNESCO heritage site and stayed frozen in time through its architecture. Yet even cities which have been built anew from the ground up, or those reconstructed after natural or manmade calamities, or the ones that are constantly changing with the changing needs, even in such cities, the routes may change, the atmosphere and the building may change but the ground beneath us remains the same in the. Where we walk, someone before us has too and in doing so you are connected to all those who laid foot on the same path.

“Unstable Territories” reading response: 

Humans are inherently social creatures, possessive creatures perhaps, but open, accepting and understanding ones, easily capable of adapting to change and grow. We as living thinking beings seek the new, the exciting and interesting. Our first point of entry to these things is usually people themselves (minding the odd exceptions) – people from different walks of life, people from different parts of the world, different cultures and different languages.

Keeping the above in mind the idea of borders in different context seem to be contradictory to me. In the social context of a nation it makes sense to have them; to have land to identify with, to have a unique culture and way of living, norms which make one nation different from the other. However, it’s the barring political nature of the border that jars on a much visceral level to a social being. For instance, just the term border, suggest an insider and outsider view, a negative psychological barrier. Even in places that don’t have a physical wall or obstruction closing one mass of land to itself on the other side, the thought and image that immediately comes to mind with the word border are of inaccessibility, of limitation, at an extreme of confinement. Nations have been vetting the people that come into their country – vetting perhaps as a response to increased immigration, threats, the safety of the environment or culture e.t.c. Technology, the web especially in my opinion (despite its intended purpose in the beginning) has been an externalization of the desire to explore, to meet, interact and increasingly so integrate with newer societies, to continue the diversity of us as a species, to meet our social needs and quench our thirst for more, more knowledge of than what we know, especially with social forums as Reddit, Quora, and of course the networking giants, as Twitter and Facebook then the plethora of others from the more general to those that cater to niche interest.

Tempo Zulu/ Coordinated Universal Time Intro Unit Project:

On a very basic level, the proposal deals with liking historic thought with a site. Specifically the site of Fonte Branda, It being the first fountain to bring water to Siena through the aqueduct system, it symbolically is the source of life for the city, the place which allowed it to be functional and inhabitable. The site is also famous for its association with the birthplace of St. Catherine of Siena. What intrigued me was her staunch religious belief of that time, the concept of the human body as a source of sin and to be denied of any luxury and at times the basic needs and comfort. Taking this as a starting point, I intended to play on the dichotomy of between life and death and represent that in my proposal for the Temple Zulu project.

Thus proposing the line “Death is the road to awe” borrowed from a song used in the movie “The Fountain” by Darren Aronofsky and using flowers to illustrate that the text, on the steps in front of and leading to the Fonte Branda. The idea being that Death is the only salvation from human suffering, as associated with medieval religious thought and juxtaposing it in front of a place that actually brought life to Siena. Thus contextually changing the symbolic meaning of the fountain, in an attempt to perhaps relate it to Greek mythology and the river of Styx and transforming the life bearing water in the Fonte Branda to that of the river Styx which one must pass after their death to go to the underworld. Also to illustrate the dual nature of things; water that is flowing will be fresh and clean, while a stagnant water body, harbors unhealthy bacteria and is host to viruses, it becomes poisonous with time.

The flowers used to illustrate the text will be small and non-descript, so that people are not barred from the space and instead have them walk over them, further enhancing the notion of death and life i.e. for living being trampling living beings. The flowers will be white in color, symbolic of purity and innocence. Purity and innocence of what they represent, the purity of the thought in its original context.

I am interested in the reaction of people who happen to notice. How and what it means in this time and age when ideas and concept of death is one that despite occurring all the time, is taboo, one that isn’t discussed openly let alone welcomed. Does it ask people to end their life, does it mean the people stop looking at death as perhaps an end. Does it suggest the possibility of eternal existence?

“Points of Entry” Intro Unit Project:

Interstitial space exists in the tangible sense; the space between two objects. Used as a tool of creation it can possibly lead to many dynamic forms – as silence is used in musical compositions; to give importance to and for the listener to reverberate in the flow of the music. To use the beautiful metaphor in Fratzeskou’s essay of Plato’s theory; for the flow to leave its’ imprint on the ground.

However, I would like to view the interstitial space in an intangible sense. With the space being the force of time, which is ever continuous and ourselves, i.e. humans as the interstitial space, where our experience of time serve as the little gaps and breaks in it. The way, with every breath we take, the pause that follows to let us absorb and process our surrounding, the little delay we experience between what we see and what it means. From, how, when we feel happy, the time it takes for us to form a smile, or for the tears to flow of our sadness. We are the interstitial space between the two worlds we inhabit, the one happening outside us, the one seemingly out of our control, of the present and future. And the one within us, the one of the past, with its accumulation of previous experiences and memories, our bonds, and relations, the voice guiding us and the one negating. The world that determines how we experience the now and the unknown.

To stay tied in with Fratzeskou’s use of technology in her essay. We are akin to a camera and the cameraperson, capturing every moment, in the way unique to us. However like an image captured by a camera that depicts a particular time, in a particular manner, but never to be experienced again in the identical way, our existence in this space of time is the same, a picture hung on a massive wall of time, a picture embellished with our little touches, leaving its imprint. Creating structures that stand tall and those that crumble, but nonetheless cause time to experience that break, for a gap to form, even if it’s just from the moment of our birth to/or our death.



Jahanzeb Haroon, Pakistan

Bio statement:

Currently a 3rd year Painting major at the National College of Arts, Lahore. Jahanzeb Haroon has an interest in the subjective perspective by which humans are bound. Exploring how our individual views changes the context of situations and events, at times twisting existing narratives and at other, highlighting the quirks of our perspective limitation.

Haroon has exhibited at the Young Artist exhibition, Alhamra, Lahore, and has contributed to the online magazine Artnow, as a photographer and writer. He is an active member of ‘The Collaborative Corpse’ (a group of surrealists from around the world working in the ‘Exquisite Corpse’ manner), and has been featured in their 2010-2011 catalogue. Haroon will also be part of the upcoming ‘Imago Mundi Project’ for Pakistan.

Previous artwork by Jahanzeb Haroon: