…but some of them never happened?
In this new body of work, Muzzumil tries to investigate the visuals that are perceived in our minds when we hear of stories and events through another’s narration. The investigation travels into realms of those visuals that are conjured through stories that have either, only been heard or those stories that were born out of visuals. This is an exploration of shapes that may not be perfect but having been given formal premises they deserve to be documented formally as well and this is where his constant process of production has taken ground. He writes everything that he experiences and perceives in his imagination; it is a mapping of body gestures that have tales to tell just through their expressions.
These visuals define themselves, based on the intensity of expression. It is an ongoing diary that he continuously writes so much so that it has almost taken the face of an art form. He writes with formal calligraphic precision; every word and letter has been done justice to its form and measurement. The words overlap chaotically; one can read words but not make out sentences the same way we read history but can never make sense of its contradictions. There are different intensities yet, within this dense, uniform network there is a sense of a balanced serenity, a calm; a tranquilized calm that exerts a silent resistance.
It is a metaphorical interpretation of the carefully chosen words that we find in history. The ethereal feel of a ghost-like apparition, a collection of random, scattered images in the bygone strands of time, the construction and reenactment of a historical event painted in literature by someone decades apart, pretending to be present as events unfold. The reliability of these narrations is questionable and their truths could be as ambiguous as any of our created perceptions of reality. Or maybe not…
‘I refuse to be part of Nero’s parties where they would burn humans to light up the gardens. I refuse to be part of those people who saw this and said or did nothing. I don’t believe in apathy’. Said the artist, still engrossed in writing down his thoughts in the piece he was working on.
These works talk about the way history is documented and according to Muzzumil, to get a purer sense of the history of a particular era, one must cross-reference art and literary pieces. It is in these, he insists, that fragments of actual social and local sentiments can be found. Here he feels, amidst different biases one may find the truth.
Most of our own history is completely tainted, it lacks purity; it is based on influenced opinions. It was written by the conquerors, with inadequate comprehension of the social strata, completely oblivious of the cultural and religious hegemony, for a nation who were once an immeasurably majestic empire. Their hopes, their dreams, their fears, their plights, their tears; this is what should have been included in the books that adorn our shelves and become syllabuses for our generations. Furthermore, these texts are rewritten decades apart by authors who pretended to understand the sentiments of those who lost their loved ones, their homes, their lives, their homelands, the ones who were a casualty number in one of history’s worst tragedies. This indifference is unfair to the memory of the struggles that cost so much; were they worth so little? His work refuses to see a world documented through another’s eyes with such apathy. ‘It is not logical’ he says.
Can or cannot, then, documentation be a single perspective, could it be speculative when all probabilities are as relevant as the next.
We hear of an event and we conjure an image, we form an opinion, in another contrasting situation, we witness an image or event and as the third party spectator, we form an opinion again of the situation; how can one say that these opinions are rationally, unbiased perspectives. This paradox is what gives birth to prejudiced documentation. Is a singularly, simplest, and slightest flicker of suspicion about the accuracy of an event not enough to make a valid cause for reasoning?
His own, artistic expression and exploration of imperfect shapes draws a contrast to the thousands of possibilities and imperfections of the images we envision upon registering verbal or visual data. An expression, a body gesture, a look, a smirk, an air of arrogance, or a condescending eye may narrate volumes. And that is precisely what his paintings seem to do: plotting gestures and looks. Using figments caught out of floating fragments of time, captured through a lens that created reminders of lives, traditions, glory, and stories buried and long forgotten in an unaccounted history; Muzzumil searches for the multitudes of reasons and meanings that look or gaze meant or the possible story behind the gesture. There seems to be a certain strange mystery in his process of working.
An almost ethereal and unquestionable feel of an ancient, majestic era that now seems to have been vanquished but only remains in random images; coupled with an elaborate web of thoughts and narration of events of everyday handwritten in calligraphic font. Every word is written perfectly and then overlapped deliberately so that one can only read each word in isolation and not be able to form a complete sentence. This ambiguity is purposely insinuated to literally mark a metaphoric connection between reading history yet not relating to it or understanding its contradictions and reading text yet not understanding it. However, along with the chaos in the writing, there is a sense of balance and calm.
The reliability of our history is debatable and its accuracy then becomes ambiguous. There is a ubiquitous attitude of ambivalence within people when raising their voice against accepted norms: this is the incentive for Muzzumil to keep exploring and not wanting to be one of Nero’s guests.