Artist Aban Raza says that her life was defined and shaped by the many encounters she had and the various art forms that she was exposed to. Her growing up years which then seemed quite normal now feels extraordinary – with lots of travels and “a great exposure to all kinds of curiosities, ranging from art to music, to science to space, to waters and protestations and marches.” Her maternal grandmother was an artist, and her mother too was one – “So, perhaps, this is all I knew, and it is a lot to know.”
In the recently-concluded group exhibition, Inbound, the recipient of a Lalit Kala Akademi Grant, attempted to situate herself in a context that at times could be overwhelming with questions that are raised time and again, but perhaps have no conclusive answers. She says, “It did explore the interiority of a being, in this case, my own subjective self, and what surfaces to represent a few personal concerns.”
The communication and social relevance of art is the core strength of Aban Raza’s work. The value of art lies in its potential impact on human mind and life. The former assistant researcher at the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts views art as a social tool of an ever-evolving society.
“For me, as an artist, artworks as a great proactive tool, a profession to spread awareness and to talk about multiple human realities and human existence”
She elucidated, “No issue of human existence is too irrelevant to be ignored nor too grand to be glorified. Here, for me, as an artist, art works as a great proactive tool, a profession to spread awareness and to talk about multiple human realities and human existence. The ideal for an Art and artist, in my perspective, is to consolidate the aesthetic energy and to creatively emancipate the being as an individual and as a collective. This, I do understand, comes with the great involvement of mind, exploration, discussions, interactions, thinking, reflecting, objective observance and enhancement of professional skills and engagement within society.”
And for a young woman artist like her, the challenges are numerous, which only makes it even more important to recognize the responsibility that one has, in order to further democratize a space that has been long dominated by a defined set of order. And to not allow that fight for democratization to become superficial or hollow.
“As a woman artist, it becomes imperative to fight to secure a space in order to ensure that an unjust dominating discourse, within the art world, is not left unchallenged.”
The artist who is inspired by the likes of Orhan Pamuk and Sadat Hasan Manto to Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Bhagat Singh and Noam Chomsky, adds, “As a woman artist, it becomes imperative to fight to secure a space in order to ensure that an unjust dominating discourse, within the art world, is not left unchallenged. A space from where my voice finds representation and is further expanded to include much more. And finally, the challenge is to do justice to the act of creation with a continuous development of the intellect and acknowledgment of one’s privilege, which in turn, should make me more responsible for the role I am to play, in the larger scheme of things.”
Most of Raza’s recent works are dedicated to aesthetically and creatively fight the oppressive nature of the current government. With the unprecedented attack on freedom of expression [and a lot more], she through her works responds to these attacks by aggressively asserting “my right to criticize and critique a system that cannot justify itself. Of course, there is a bit of romance in these expressions, but that is exactly what makes it all beautiful.”
She expects to be “more settled in the head in the next few years”. Hopefully having gained some clarity to many questions that define existence. And then she adds in good humour, “Though I see myself having more questions than more answers, but well!
Ummed pe duniya khayam hai.”