Cool new photographers on the block Baemisaal are redefining art photography in Pakistan. Melding fresh techniques and graphic design into their finished creations and presenting a moody and off-kilter point of view, these young guns are ones to watch! Tajwar and Bihamaal tell Afshan Shafi about all the aspects of their vision

Tajwar Munir

Please tell us about your background as an artist and your education in this regard.

Photography wasn’t something I had planned all along as a profession. I started taking pictures as a form of therapy and eventually, I became passionate about it and decided to continue with it.

Which artists, local or international, have influenced or informed your point of view the most?

I really admire the work of Jan Welters with his intrinsic details, and how he captures darkness and mystery in his portraits. When it comes to local artists, Muzi Sufi is without any doubt the one whose work I enjoy. When you see her work you actually feel like you are experiencing those pictures. She captures everything so perfectly and the composition is both vibrant and colourful; it gives life to the viewer.

What has been a seminal, life-changing experience in terms of your photography?

The seminal life-changing experience was the first year of my university, where I found myself among people I thought I’ll never be with, in a place I absolutely abhorred. However, being alone, I found solace in taking pictures and started seeing my surroundings with a different lens.

“I’m most attached to the recent portraits that I have taken since I believe that taking pictures of different people defines every individual in their own way taking into account their unique features and style”—Tajwar

Which of your creations are you most attached to and why?

I’m most attached to the recent portraits that I have taken since I believe that taking pictures of different people defines every individual in their own way, taking into account their unique features and style.

What themes do you find yourself drawn towards most often in your art?

I prefer contemporary fashion photography.

Name something you love, and why.

Not to brag, but I love the way I manage to utilize the space around me. Some of my work is set in my university, utilizing various backgrounds whether it is a brick wall or a building under construction, or a workshop. All these natural settings help me in creating art out of a kind of disaster.

Name something you don’t love, and why.

Something I don’t love is how people view the field of art, as it is still not taken as seriously as it should be. I think there is a lack of appreciation for the distinct work that each artist produces and its true value to the community.

If you could travel back in time to an era in art history which period would you choose and why?

Obviously it would be the 70’s because I just love how the pop culture flourished during this era and how can one forget those funky clothes.

What is your dream project?

I have always dreamed of shooting a music video set in old Lahore. I would love to fuse the past into the present.

Which artists living or dead would you have loved to collaborate with?

Without any doubt it would be Lana Del Rey and Meryl Streep.

What are you working on as a future project?

I cannot disclose that but I am open to transforming all my challenges into opportunities.

Bihamaal Zurqa

Please tell us about your background as an artist and your education in this regard.

I studied film for a year in Dubai and then came back to Pakistan. I’m a Liberal Arts student. I was into theatre performance art and direction for over 4 years until I realized my passion for videography.

“Surrealism is one of my absolute favourite techniques to play with” —Bihamaal

Which of your creations are you most attached to and why?

I’m most attached to the very first video I made called Unity in Diversity, which started my journey as a visual artist. I celebrated reaching 10k followers by doing a giveaway for a makeover and a shoot.

I’m also super attached to the artwork I created with the help of Tajwar Munir for my poetry.

What themes do you find yourself drawn towards most often in your art?

Surrealism is one of my absolute favourite techniques to play with; I think the topics I love exploring have to do with deviance, freedom, empowerment, humanism, psychology, philosophy, anthropology, psychedelic art, etc.

Name something you love, and why.

I’m in love with art in all its stunning forms. For me, finding art in the most minuscule of things, people and places really ignites my fire. I love the intrinsic and earth shattering effect only art has on our minds. Be it in music, painting, dance, photography, etc.

If you could travel back in time to an era in art history which period would you choose and why?

I’d definitely, 100%  hands down want to find Dali and beg him to make me his apprentice if I had a time machine. That man had no artistic flaw. He was a genius and his art is so underrated today.

What is your dream project?

Not entirely sure what it would be but definitely something in the field of videography and film. I’d want it to really be something to move your entire existence where you genuinely want to walk outside and see the world anew and somehow bring back the humanity we’ve lost. Not entirely a good example but there’s this feeling you get after watching the movie Perfume: A Story of a Murderer. It’s so stunning to watch and in the end, you sort of go into this trance-like state where everything makes sense and you want to connect to yourself and everything else around you. I want to create something like that. Yeah. That’s the goal.

Which artists living or dead would you have loved to collaborate with?

I’d love to work with Tim Burton, SIA, Helena Bonham Carter, Lady Gaga, Johnny Depp, Marlon Brando, Steven Spielberg and Will.I.Am.

What is an artistic outlook on life?

Good question. I’ll let you know when I find out.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

I don’t think I say this enough but honestly the responses I get on a daily basis from people who follow my work make it so worthwhile. It’s an absolute honor knowing people appreciate your work knowing that it’s not still just an idea stuck in my head. I think something that gets me every time is people telling me what an inspiration I am because there was a time where I felt absolutely worthless. For me, that’s huge. I want people to know that my art is to liberate and help someone who’s having an art or mental crisis and when I read people telling me that my words and art help them get back on track. Man, it’s the best feeling ever.

What are you working on as a future project?

Aaaaaaah, it’s a secret! But here’s a hint: It’s going to be something addressing feelings and emotions all of us have felt and I hope that somehow, even if there’s a 1 per cent chance of us being nicer to each other after watching it, I’m going to take it!

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