all right, i bet everyone is keen to know about kula sudha ira because rumours were doing the rounds, some said it was invitees only, my friends said it was for rich kids, the kind who wear shorts during work hours because they have little to do but pucker their lips around the funnels of their parents’ stream of wealth and suck, but when i arrived on the scene it was mostly artists, some rich, the kind who'd done art school abroad and i felt weird for not being one,
one of comparable calibre at least, believe you me i have artisted in my life, i've made stuff and i can play the djembe, anyhow, yes i was feeling all limp because these guys had huge...well, in our artworld anyway, i won't belabour the point but you know i needn't have worried because for one thing, the lights really put me in a good groove, really, man, the lights were everywhere and shimmering like the sequins on a gown of some glitzy starlet, think rishmy in slinky hollywood attire,
i think i was told by mamduh that he and his gang had a hand in the narcotic optical effects for this event, and it WAS that, i am still affected by it, my brain is chafed and raw from the imagery of that night, but the sound was pretty sublime too, with synths that softly burrowed into your ear and nuzzled your cochlea while your eyes feasted on the visuals,
and i remember almost transcending myself, being lost in the winsome twining of light and sound of ‘ethos music’ (you have to get the album) until this guy who was sitting next to me went 'this is exactly what we need these days, fully immersive experiences,' spot on brother, thanks for that insight,
so, i went downstairs and there were a bunch of people there too, just hanging out, i waltzed all aloof into a kind of gallery space, and inspected the collaborative artwork produced by this group who were represented by mxxxx and rxxxx, they’d cooked this shit up real good, and from what i'd heard it's a long and arduous process, the pressing of foliage and flowers onto paper using chemicals and cookery, the end result of which was definitely flowery, a kind of weird collaboration with nature where you see these real organic shapes with some appearing like rorschach tests and there were magnifying glasses at hand to inspect everything up close so you could marvel the grain and details, yes, interactive and playful,
then i slipped out and we started sipping our iced teas, lighting up our cigarettes, conversation sparked and i got sucked into one about art, of course, and i think my counterpart made some valid points like “you can't get art material here,” although i don't recall much thanks to the tannins in the tea, in fact the whole night seems hazy to me, i seem to remember an artist screaming "artists aren't special," and someone else went "thedheh thedheh," and i feel i must agree, i mean, that would bring artists down to my level at least, so i have more of a chance of interacting with them and admiring their beautiful, beautiful minds without feeling like a total schmuck,
OK that's the psychology behind my thought but the truth of it is yes, artists aren't special because, one, it's not easy to demarcate what art is and what it isn't, so practically anybody can do anything and they'd have a claim on being an artist, OK, but this doesn't explain my discomfort in their presence, which i think is because of this: real artists, like most people in the business of doing real things, can sniff out imposters,
so, yes, there is always reason to feel uncomfortable in the presence of painters, sculptors, writers, filmmakers and gallery owners if you're just some guy who plays the djembe and loops some loops on a laptop on occasion, but artists, even real ones, aren't special because they're human, and all humans are special so no one really is, arguably, and, maybe this is important, you can’t really count on anyone but yourself to make art, artists, i have read, speak of an urge that they just can’t contain, this probably goes some way towards explaining why they’re making crazy action films in uganda, anyway, i was finding it hard to contain myself, especially with all the iced tea so i extricated myself and went upstairs to catch the last performance, naaba island vibes, over whom everyone was salivating, because it was bloody naaba, and i took a seat just as they began, and became instantly smitten with shimattey's weather-beaten voice that sounded so much like those old men on the radio from when we woke up to go to school,
it was one aurally mesmerising moment after the other, and later, when everything was over, azmeel from naaba said they tried to find boduberu in the music, or maybe it was music in the boduberu, something that felt like a little revelation at the time, it was about deconstructing boduberu rhythms and sounds and building things around it, i think, please feel free to hate me for misconstruing your words az, but whatever it was he was getting at, it was clear naaba knew what it was, for it shone through in the performance,
and naaba went wild, shimattey, whom i found also to be a lyricist of some skill was also a middling jokester, and there was one extended session of their song 'lonu' that was really incredible because it spoke to me, the chorus is a snarky comment about doing something futile like trying to empty the sea, and it seemed like it symbolised something great, something just beyond the grasp of our mind but whose massive shadow is perceptible to the inner eye and could be approached obliquely, anyway after a while, shimattey was screaming 'feneh nethey', and it all just crystallised in my head, of course, the crossroads project! where they'd dredged all that artificial land and it didn't have a lens of water like on natural islands... feneh nethey!!!
so, i said to the guy in front of me, “this iced tea is very easy to drink” and the guy laughed and laughed at me, what the hell man, proper iced tea really is very easy to drink, it doesn't taste like lemonade, OK? the band wound up and after a few more cups, i went downstairs because someone said there was an afterparty but it was just some guys toying with a hangdrum. it was over, this was it, and my major takeaway from this was that we don’t have to kowtow to zero degree anymore, because, yes, against massive odds (the internet, global warming, the receding hairline of the dhivehi language), our generation has finally produced some brilliance, too.
- note: the art exhibit is still on at the island beach house in hulhumale. trust me, it’s pretty fun.