Tag Archives: #biotechnology

The Birth of an Amulet

5 Mar

The animals sacrificed at the Muslim celebration of Eid-ul-Azha (based on the  Abrahamic tradition) will serve as our ride to heaven, post death. Thus went the explanation my parents gave to rest my discomforts at the slaughter of animals over Eid Festivities.

But what about when we are alive? After all, death is a distant possibility.

When we are alive or probably during our lifetime, we will quite possibly see science, particularly the field of biotechnology help produce the hybrid animals I imagined as a child: Winged goats, camels, cows (the wings enabled them to fly me to heaven).

Bear with me from here on, as most of this is imagined and yet to happen. Though it is the future. These will deserve our admiration simply for existing. In essence what we are actually admiring is the accomplishments of science. Pigs with soft meat, goats with wings. Pretty much the same thing. The potential of science, biotechnology in particular, is boundless; be it crop yield or unique hybrid species that offer the potential of replacing religion as a solution to human woes, indicating an era where human intervention/invention trumps nature. My practice currently references the fact that ideas that were mere fantasy a few years back may well become a reality in the near future.

My latest piece for Bahishti Cultures – a body of work that came into being as a tongue-in-cheek response to my research on (the unhindered deployment of) biotechnology to use and abuse nature and animals to satiate human consumption and insecurities – elevates the realm of biotechnology to the level of religion, creating deities out of hybrid animals. This new piece titled The Making of An Amulet follows a reductive approach. Much like Islamic amulets reduce all Quranic/non-Quranic verses on protection into a square piece of paper stuffed and sewn into a leather case to be worn around the neck – I have also managed to make the perfect Amulet derived from the accomplishments of biotechnology, that will in time replace religion and demand subservience.

Step 1.
It starts with the chimera – a goat with wings to fly, and claws to grab, and hooves to walk.  A Commendable Creation.
Step 1

Step 2.

Simplify it a bit. remove the goat head, keep the (added) features i.e wings, claws, hooves and tail.

IMG_0140 copy.jpgStep 3.
Simplify Further. Keep the best feature. Wear it around your neck. It will be your saviour.

Step 4.
Recognition. Is it even an amulet in contemporary muslim practice if not bound in leather to be worn around the neck?

IMG_0143 copy.jpg

The amulets started off as trinkets/jewellery to be worn around the neck for purposes of faith and belief in Science the Saviour. However, for now they have found a new home, resting in cork, flying in the sky.

step 1- low res


Celestial v/s Cerebral : work-in-progress

29 Apr


I have been sitting on an idea for over a month now, contemplating this blogpost and happily, I am finally getting around to it. In self defence, I must add  that since I have yet to execute the idea, a months procrastination is not too bad, and it’s still not too late. More than anything else, this post is an archive of my thoughts and ideas, marking the date and year. And of course, it helps iron out the creases in my concept.

Divine, Human | Technology, Intervention
Intervenchnology –  Working Title.

This is how it started. At night, many nights ago, somewhere in my brain there were literal biological sparks, where synapses met and metaphorical dots were connected.With the biology explained and out of the way, I am now going to focus on the emotional/theoretical. I feel like my work is taking an automatic U-turn to biotechnology though in a spirited and sprightly manner, that is not at all depressing or cumbersome. And doing so, completely of it’s own accord, perhaps subconsciously, but it is no way planned or structured by my brain.

Religion/ religious belief and practice has been at the heart of my practice since 2009. And in some ways, I have been working in continuum, on the same body of work, despite the explicit changes in language and expression.
To elucidate the return to biotechnology; the winged-animals in my paintings are a visual representation that symbolise the imagination of my 5-10 year old mind, based on mythical stories and religious ideology imparted upon me as a child, however, my chimerical creatures could very well be conceived and created by human intervention in nature, propelled by the science of biotechnology, as is exemplified by Alba ,the glow-in-dark rabbit, the first of many such experiments and creations in art and science alike.

Undoubtedly deserved, there is a a lot of credibility advocated to human ability and biological intervention in nature. It is in fact, so incredible so as to make it almost venerable. Bearing this in mind, I embark on my latest piece for this oeuvre.

The making of an Amulet, is a three-part wearable piece of art that represents our faith in science. For this piece, I have re-appropriated conviction scribbled on paper and worn for protection by believers i.e. a Ta’aviz or Amulet. However, I have replaced the (occassionally divine) scribbles with scientific struggles, accomplishments and possibilities, elements embodied within my chimerical animals. Borrowing from the idea of an amulet or ta’awiz , this represents our faith in human ability and scientific interference as opposed to Nature and a Divine plan.




[In case, Alba is a mystery, here’s a link to a brief intro. http://www.genomenewsnetwork.org/articles/03_02/bunny_art.shtml ]