It has touched me in recent years how often I have witnessed the exploitation of farming communities by wealthy land owners as we have traveled the world. It is truly a universal norm to economically enslave share croppers by creating debt structures in the wake of drought or natural disaster, which in turn bind whole families to a land owner.
This man lives and works as a share cropper along the Indus River in Pakistan. I can still remember the hopelessness in his eyes as he explained how the land owner whose fields he tended had not changed his expected quota of grain following the massive floods of last summer, which has forced his children to quit school and work the fields themselves. Even with the extra hands they still can’t make the quota and are now bound to their master by debt.
FACT: This is a totally legal and recognized practice of slavery all across the world. (via aphotographicprotest)
There is a marked difference between questions raised by artists and those put by other important figures such as politicians and social scientists regarding society’s shortcomings. The latter seek tangible, physical change within geographical confines whereas the former look to revolutionise society on a psychosomatic level, that is, they investigate the relation between the mind and the body to resolve or understand individual and collective conflicts.
An exhibition of artist Donia Kaiser’s works titled ‘The Other Side’ opened at the Chawkandi Art Gallery on Tuesday. (Complete news)
Academy Award winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy was presented the ‘Crystal Award’ by Hilde Schwab at the 2013 World Economic Forum meeting for her efforts in promoting human rights and women’s issues through film. The award was given at the official Crystal Award ceremony held at the World Economic Forum Congress Centre, Congress Hall in Davos, Switzerland.
The World Economic Forum introduced the Crystal Award in 1995 to honour personalities who are highly regarded as both cultural leaders and global citizens committed to improving the state of the world in.
Alongside Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, the session awarded Charlize Theron, actress and founder of the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project and Vik Muniz, artist and member Global Agenda Council, on the Role of the Arts in Society. The ceremony was chaired by Hilde Schwab, Chairperson and Co-Founder, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. Past winners include A R Rahman, Amitabh Bachan, Muhammad Ali, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Richard Gere. (Complete news)
Vernin U’Chong started jumping around at home at an early age – around when he was six or seven. It was only when he watched a documentary on parkour and free running later in life did he realize that what he was doing was an actual sport. After a little research he took his passion to a whole different level. He is the one of the pioneers of parkour and free running in Pakistan and has inspired many youth into the sport. Vernin is also a professional athlete and has taken part in many national and provincial games. In the recent Sindh games in 2012, Vernin took the gold medals in the 100, 200 and 4×100 relay races.
Meanwhile his brother, Neil U’Chong, who also practices parkour, has also been break dancing in Pakistan for many years now and has been teaching it to children from his community for around half a decade. He now teaches at the Body Beat Recreational Centre and trains various people in break dance. Neil is also a graffiti artist, who practices the mantra that it’s not vandalism if someone wants it to be done on their property. He has been appointed to do graffiti for various television commercials and also promotes the activity if it is done legally.
For those who are new to this urban sport, parkour was developed in the 1990’s by David Belle in France. The sport is a training discipline that has been developed out of military obstacle training courses. The point is to move from point A to point B, overcoming all obstacles in between. It is a non-competitive sport and all one needs is a good pair of sneakers and the city is your playground.
Free running on the other hand is described by its creator Sébastien Foucan as “the art of expressing yourself in your environment without limitations: It is the art of movement and action”. Foucan explains that free running developed from parkour when he started making the sport more personal — by adapting it to each person’s strengths and weaknesses.
Both the brothers have done various parkour, free running, break dancing, and graffiti commercials and projects and intend on promoting the sport as much as they can in the city and hopefully the country. - Text by Kurt Menezes