Perhaps for the first time in the history of Karachi University (KU), the walls of the varsity displayed something other than political posters overflowing with hate speech: graffiti.
Abdoz Arts took up the task to ‘free the walls’ at KU.
“Our walls are our assets,” said Humble Tariq, the founder of the Abdoz Arts and a student of the Institute of Business Administration. “We want to free our walls and reclaim them.”
“It’s a form of protest,” added Umer Asim, Abdoz Arts co-founder and a student of the Institute of Business Management. “We want our walls back.”
Abdoz Arts took up the initiative to cleanse the walls of KU of political graffiti. Tariq explained how their initiative does not fall under vandalism. “We have taken permission from the management of the university to paint these walls. We wish that someday we get the permission and funds to paint all over the university, or in fact, the whole city.”
Interestingly, the ‘Banksys’ of Karachi belonged to different departments of the university. Some of them had finished their product and left with a signature while others were still drawing on the walls.
Among the interesting works was a mythical pot of gold from which emanated a four-striped rainbow. Each stripe contained patterns depicting something of the culture of each of the four provinces. The pot of gold had the Pakistani flag printed on its outside. Visual studies students Mishal Khan and Ayesha Sikender had signed it under the title ‘Hum sub ek hain’.
There were more works on other walls, all of which either focused on the history and culture of Pakistan or conveyed a social awareness message. Most celebrated themes echoing in the works were those of unity and peace.
English department’s Beenish, who was still drawing on the walls, had painted the image of a woman who had been a sufferer of violence.
“Even though I’m from the English department, I have a penchant for drawing,” she told The Express Tribune.
Building on the theme of violence, Asad Yunus was sketching images reflecting how we torture ourselves. He had depicted a man who had silenced himself by covering his mouth with his own hand.
“We can’t speak,” he said in a grim tone and turned his back and continued to sketch with the piece of charcoal that he held.
KU Carnival coordinator Hassan Aftab also cherished the endeavours of Abdoz Arts. “People are taking interest. More than 80 photographers have come to cover.”
However, some of the students participating in the carnival seemed indifferent to the works. They were sitting on the walls with their shoes rubbing against the paintings. “We can’t stop them from doing that,” said Tariq.