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“Mizraab” – A Tabloid to vent the Creative Expressions of Young minds of Kashmir

"Mizraab" is not only about art, literature and culture, it includes satire and showcases conflict as well.

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Image Source: Kashmir Observer
  • The first issue of the 16-page fortnightly “Mizraab”, funded by local newspaper “Kashmir Observer”, is a collection of writings, illustrations and poetry done by students
  • “Mizraab” is not only about art, literature and culture, it includes satire and showcases conflict as well
  • She said she got 2,500 copies printed for the first edition. All of them were distributed to students free of cost

In search of space for political dissent in the trouble-torn Kashmir Valley, 23-year-old Saba Nazki and a bunch of youths have started a tabloid — “Mizraab” — exclusively for students to give vent to their creative expressions in the form of stories and illustrations.

When Nazki flew back in 2014 after completing her graduation from Delhi University in English honors, she said there was “no space” in the Valley for intellectual creativity as existed in the national capital where art, theatre and writing used to be her daily fare.

The first issue of the 16-page fortnightly “Mizraab”, funded by local newspaper “Kashmir Observer”, is a collection of students’ writings, illustrations and poetry.

“Kashmir not only has beautiful landscapes but is also rich in terms of art and literature. And it is so unfortunate that we do not have any space for expression. Kashmir is poetic. Students here need polishing and a platform for expression. Thus, Mizraab,” Nazki, who never intended to be a journalist, told IANS.

Titled appropriately, “Mizraab”, a Persian-origin Urdu name for fiddle-stick or the plectrum with which musical instruments like the sitar or rabaab are played, is a platform to stir the hidden creative minds of the valley.

“Mizraab for me is to instigate art and channelize intellectual space. In Kashmir, even student politics is mostly banned. We need to create our own space,” said Nazki, the founding editor.

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Pursuing her masters in English literature from Kashmir University, Nazki has involved fellow students, invoking in them the sense of writing.

The first edition published earlier this month is a mix of Kashmir’s art, culture, history and linguistic treasure. For example a column, “With Love, To Aga Shahid Ali”, remembers the life and works of the renowned Kashmiri-American poet.

It also has illustrations by students of music and fine arts. There is a column called “Til-waer”, which literally means an oil-dispenser, but is a phrase in Kashmir used for a woman who wanders from door-to-door.

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Image Source: Kashmir Observer

“Tilwaer” will be a collection of words and brain-picking idioms and phrases no longer used in spoken Kashmiri. The idea is to recollect “with a tinge of sarcasm, humour and wit” the lost linguistic treasure of Kashmir.

“Dancing in Wilderness — of longings, divinity and catharisis” creates a link between Kashmir’s ancient women poets like Lalla Ded and Habba Khatoon and their present-day counterparts like Naseem Shafai — the first Kashmiri woman to win the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2011.

However, Nazki said the tabloid is not only about art, literature and culture.

“Art and culture is only the prism. I intend to showcase Kashmir’s life in various ways,” she said, adding that the tabloid uses art as a metaphor. “It includes satire and showcases conflict as well.”

She said she got 2,500 copies printed for the first edition. All of them were distributed to students free of cost. But from the next edition, each copy will be priced at Rs 5.(Source:IANS)

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    There should be more such inspirational steps taken by the people of Kashmir to encourage them and fight terrorism as a whole. Art, literature a way of changing people’s minds in a good way.

Next Story

Art Undersea: Cuban Artist Sketches Under Sea Among Fish and Coral Reefs

For Cuba's Sandor Gonzalez, there is no better place to sketch than several meters below the surface of the sea

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Art, Undersea, Cuban
Cuban artist Sandor Gonzalez paints underwater in Punta Perdiz. He experimented until he found a way of sketching with charcoal or oil paints which unlike pastels or watercolor would not dissolve. VOA

Some artists like to go on a countryside retreat to foster their creative process.

For Cuba’s Sandor Gonzalez, there is no better place to sketch than several meters below the surface of the sea, surrounded by iridescent Caribbean fish and fantastical coral forms.

The 42-year-old first won renown at home and abroad for his predominantly black-and-white, haunting images of imaginary cityscapes, inspired by a trip to Europe and reflecting the aggressiveness of modern, urban life.

Then six years ago, he went scuba diving in Cuba and found his inspiration in the complete opposite: the tranquility found below water where all forms are natural and not manmade, all sounds are muffled and the light ripples softly.

Art, Undersea, Cuban
Cuban artist Sandor Gonzalez speaks to the media after painting underwater in Punta Perdiz, June 18, 2019. VOA

While Gonzalez had heard of a biologist painting underwater in Spain, he decided to experiment for himself until he found a way of sketching with charcoal or oil paints which unlike pastels or watercolor would not dissolve.

The Cuban learnt to then soak the canvasses for at least an hour and rinse them to get rid of the salt and any organic matter, before hanging them out to dry.

“This started off as a hobby, as a passion,” he told Reuters at Punta Perdiz, his favorite dive spot, sheltered in the Bay of Pigs, where in 1961 U.S.-backed Cuban exiles landed in a failed attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro.

“But now I really need to come here, immerse myself and create below water because there is a peace there that you simply cannot find on dry land.”

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To do so, he gets fully kitted out in scuba diving gear including an oxygen tank and yellow flippers, and swims out 60 meters (197 feet) to his easel fixed in the seabed around 6 meters (20 feet) below the surface.

With him, he carries his canvas, and other equipment like a spatula for the oil paints weighed down with some lead to avoid it floating to the surface if he lets go.

The artist said he does not plan beforehand, instead allowing inspiration to strike as he enters a meditative state in the crystalline water. But inevitably his submarine work is more about nature than the cityscape series he continues to develop on land.

Being reliant on a tank limits the time underwater, but Gonzalez is quick and for this interview sketched in 30 minutes a flying whale, dragging a house behind it in a sky dotted with clouds. Palm trees grow off the creature’s back.

Art, Undersea, Cuban
Cuban artist Sandor Gonzalez paints underwater in Punta Perdiz, Cuba, June 18, 2019. VOA

“I really did not expect to see somebody under water, painting!” exclaimed Canadian tourist Mike Festeryga, who saw Gonzalez while diving along the seabed.

The state-run dive center at Punta Perdiz, on Cuba’s southern coast, some 172 km (107 miles) from Havana, said his work was an extra draw for tourists.

“For tourists, it’s really a novelty,” said Hector Hernandez, who has been working as a dive instructor in the area for more than 28 years.

Gonzalez, who makes a living selling work at his studio in Havana for a median price of $1,000 per canvas, exhibits some of his submarine work in the Punta Perdiz dive center.

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He is now hoping to get state permission to sell the work and develop the area as a center for underwater art.

“I would like for a department of submarine painting to be created,” he said. “I don’t think anything like that exists yet anywhere in the world.” (VOA)