Mariah Lookman

There are many benefits to living with art as it provokes contemplation on a daily basis. While fulfilling the role of an object to muse upon, be it at one’s home, gallery or public arena, art generates a sense of awakening. Art is powerful when it translates into an experience that broadens knowledge, strikingly highlighting the grandiose vision of the artist. The audience may come to understand contextualization, with political, social and personal outcomes while approaching a painting critically facilitated through the role of an art curator whose objective is to interpret works of art whilst providing meaning within a larger social or political context. Mariah Lookman, curator, academic and artist states that curation chose her for its mission of promoting cross-cultural ideas and histories. Residing between Galle and London, Mariah is of Pakistani origin who has a B.F.A. from NCA, Lahore, M.A. from The Slade and D.Phil. from The Ruskin, Oxford. Her specialization revolves around art and the history of ideas, especially that of the nexus between the arts, scientific ideas and the political.

Through the driving forces of meaning making and critical cognition, Mariah believes that art curation is a combined framework of experience. “It’s not unusual to put your ideas forward either in terms of words or an arrangement of objects. In terms of meaning making, art has got a long history associated with objects and belief”. Harkening from a studio-centric curatorial practice, there is a shared emphasis on the hands-on production process of artist and curator. This was made evident in her role as co-curator for the recent Lahore Biennale, Pakistan’s first-ever Biennale. Her experience as a festival organizer entailed joys of a life filled with selfless labor and personal growth in bringing together meaning through art.

Mariah divulges that curation can be about creating conditions from which a subject can be interpreted. “I’m interested in how people think, and why they make things”. Occurrences in history make for studious fuel and conversation. Artists reflect the times in unforeseen ways. Curatorial interventions make for opportunities to bring about dialogues. “It can be across time, it can be within a group of contemporaries; through putting their works together, you bring them in conversation”. Curators play an important role in making artists from different cultures and cities realize that they share similar concerns, even if they have yet to meet one another. Universal issues may be addressed by tackling local problems, providing opportunities of personal growth and critical engagement.

Processed Meaning

There is potential in collecting art to bring about the awakening of intelligent dialogues. Its presence may epitomize cultural elegance. Additionally, space and context play a significant role in determining the types of work curated and showcased. The works presented at local art festivals such as ‘Colombo Art Biennale’ and ‘Colomboscope’ are more experimental than of the collections showcased at Museums of Modern and Contemporary Art, Mariah states. Rigorous processes are usually followed in preserving historical engagements.

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8th June, 2018 Art | Conceptual

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