David Chalmers Alesworth

“The Age of Wonder” Lahore Literature Festival, February 2015

Art, Contemporary Art, Environment, Uncategorized

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The Age of Wonder LLF, Canon Powershot - 060

The Age of Wonder LLF, Canon Powershot - 137

The Age of Wonder, iPhone - 35



The Age of Wonder LLF, Canon Powershot - 161

The Age of Wonder LLF, Canon Powershot - 141


The Age of Wonder, iPhone - 29


The Age of Wonder LLF, Canon Powershot - 156

The Age of Wonder LLF, Canon Powershot - 074

The Age of Wonder LLF, Canon Powershot - 085


The Age of Wonder LLF, Canon Powershot - 152



David Alesworth has a long history of working in public spaces and collaborative practices. These began in the late 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s. Resulting in works such as “The Promised Lands” Frere Hall 1997, “Heart Mahal” 1996 and “Very Very Sweeet Madina” in 2000. For the Lahore Literature festival-2015 Alesworth will be facilitating a project based around the microscopic, inviting members of the public to view aspects of the everyday environment that are normally invisible to the unaided eye. These will be viewed and shared through both the optical microscope and video projections, moving from the infinitesimally small to the large format of the public display. Here musing upon the relationship between the individual and society and reflecting upon the Age of Wonder that has been a long standing feature of the artist’s research interests.
(text from LLF catalogue)

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Karachi Pop

Art, Contemporary Art, Environment

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Hammad Nasar’s piece for the Guggenheim site.http://blogs.guggenheim.org/2013/02/11/karachi-pop-vernacular-visualities-in-…

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Febuary-March, Cantt. Lahore, Ganche, Baltistan


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Carrots in the washing basket, 13 March 2010
I’ve been thinking about inserting carrots into this plastic washing basket since i got it about two years ago.It seems made for them. Though I hadn’t counted on its flexibility nor their weight. Then there’s the lack of symmetry in an average Pakistani carrot. These black carrots are amazing, they seem another whole species from their bland orange cousins. The bigger picture is a putting together of the product of industry and the produce of nature. Both are interventions of a sort, neither are “natural”. This goes beyond my anthology of plastics.
Black and red carrots, 13 March 2010

Black Carrot juice, 26th March 2010, Lahore


 Carrots in the clothes basket, 13th March 2010



 Mixed carrots and plastic


 Black carrots and orange plastic, 13th March 2010


The shoot


set-up with  Nikon D3


Dyed eggs for Naurose,

Appo Jaffar, at Khaplu Palace, Baltistan 23rd March 2010


Khaplu village from above, 23rd March 2010


Khaplu high plateau in search of lawn-grass, 23rd March 2010


Panorama with Huna, Khaplu 23rd March 2010


Black Peppercorn Haier top-loader, detergent free twin tub, 14th March 2010


R.A. Bazaar Bombings, Friday 12th March 2010


Body parts, mobile phone advert, R.A. bazaar Bombings, Friday 12th March 2010


Washing down R.A. Bazaar, bombings, 12th March 2010


R.A. Bazaar bombings, 12th March 2010
Just outside Skardu by road, 23rd March 2010


Cabbage White’s eating all my Ruccola, 26th March 2010

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Studio check-in 1st Nov. 2009.


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Some current thoughts and initiatives.<o:p></o:p>

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Walking the ganda-nala’s of Lahore<o:p></o:p>

I have approached a potential collaborator for this venture and we are in the process of discussing it. The open storm drains in this massive city of 7+ million (1998 census figures) provide the only channeling of sewage from homes to its ultimate discharge in the now dead river Ravi. There are no treatments plants. However the ganda-nala’s also create ecological corridors through the city where plant and animal life is left fairly undisturbed. The current heightened tension in the city is making any walking venture deeply problematic, let alone undertaking a walk through a highly suspicious no-mans land. I hope to undertake an initial walk (and documentation) within a few weeks. <o:p></o:p>

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The People’s Art Historical Garden Centre Project<o:p></o:p>

Completed 25th October 2009 in collaboration with Adnan Madani. We have collaborated on several projects previously, notably “The Frankfurt School” video which is also covered in previous blog entries. See the newly added page of documentation and narrated video. Akbar Naqvi’s book “Image and Identity” (Oxford, 1997) is systematically dismantled and converted into useful paper bags. It is unbound and liberated from it’s burden of assumed authority. A reclamation, a reinterpretation and dissemination. Even an insemination (seeds are added to each art-historical bag). Like seeds themselves it is finally disseminated to the public of Lahore. <o:p></o:p>

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Eden project<o:p></o:p>

I have yet to locate specialist input for this project and I now see it as being a much longer term initiative. I hope at least part of it may be realized by next summer’s residency.<o:p></o:p>

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Berlin Collaboration 2009-2010<o:p></o:p>

I have sent out initial emails towards this collaboration. It is intended that a dual project be negotiated that comes to fusion and fruition in Berlin next summer. Something that involves horticultural practices in the cities of Lahore and Berlin.<o:p></o:p>

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Readings, recent and in progress, 1st Nov. 2009<o:p></o:p>

Tim Richardson. Vista, The Culture and Politics of Gardens.<o:p></o:p>

K. Helphand. Defiant Gardens.<o:p></o:p>

Khan. The Gardener.<o:p></o:p>

Ian Sinclair. Hackney that Rose-Red Empire.<o:p></o:p>

Reza Aslan. How to Win a Cosmic War.<o:p></o:p>

Charles Darwin. The Formation of Vegetable Mould.<o:p></o:p>

Foucault. Several Readers and The Order of Things.<o:p></o:p>

Isenberg. The Nature of Cities.<o:p></o:p>

Belting. Garden of Earthly Delights.<o:p></o:p>

Jellicoe. The Landscape of Man.<o:p></o:p>

Coverley. Psychogeography.<o:p></o:p>

Reynolds. On Guerrilla Gardening.<o:p></o:p>

Allen. Kipling Sahib.<o:p></o:p>

Solnit. As Eve Said to the Serpent.<o:p></o:p>

Driver. Nash. Landing.<o:p></o:p>

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I will be contacting Kenneth Helphand for my research on the ”Post-Colonial Garden”. This is currently under negotiation with my mentor concerning it’s whole approach to the subject.<o:p></o:p>

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Context for the current work, Jan. 2009.


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“Tower” 1974

An early sculpture from my foundation year at Epsom. 1974. I had spent the previous summer working on a motorway, the A3. We used to construct road markers out of waste materials to warn of hazards, to the trucks and other users of the as yet unopened road. I think something of my attitude to positioning work in the public space, and then the gallery space originated here.


“Two Bombs Kiss”, Neem wood carving, 1990.
A prayer to avert nuclear war in the sub-c0ntitnet. It’s based on a story I’d read of Brancusi, his ambition to place a version of “The Kiss” between the trenches of the Germans and the allies in the first world war.


“Heart Mahal” 1996,
Collaborative work. Iftikhar and Elizabeth Dadi, Durriya Kazi and David Alesworth.


“Fukuoka 2000”
A residency undertaken with Durriya Kazi and Pakistani truck decorators. Intended to interface with Japanese truck decorators. (Image right.)


Collaborative works with Durriya Kazi, 1997-2000


“Chamak Patti disks David Alesworth, 2001. Icons of modernity such as washing powder adverts, emblems of arab culture, early nuclear weapons and mushroom clouds. The “Chammak Patti” is glass impregnated tape (3M reflector tape) used to decorate trucks in Pakistan.


“Event Horizon” 2002.
six-foot satellite Dish, chamak patti, enamel paint, steel stand. An anti-globalization, ad-busting work. It’s first incarnation was on a thela (hand-cart). David Alesworth, 2002.


“War Against Terror” 2002
Aluminum trays, nan roti’s, toy American soldiers, chamak Patti tape.


“Teddy Bear Rug” 2002.

Second hand soft toys on sale at Itwaar Bazaar, Karachi. A rug made of Teddy Bear skins.


The first of the “Teddy’s Bear’s”. Toys for the war child. 2003.


“Probes” 2003, Karachi, out in the city of Karachi.


“Probes” in Karachi, the phalwala, murgheewala and doodhwala. 2003.


“Trays” 2003.
International brands, hacked, based upon fake items found in Karachi’s markets. Stensil cut aluminium.

“Record Room”
Series, 2008-2009. Monochrome photographs. These will be shown in combination with “Fermi’s Pile”. The photographs will also be framed in grey, passivated zinc-plated steel. I will probably use a phosphate passivation on all the metal items.


“Record Room” series monochrome.
Probably around 20 x 30 inch, full-bleed images, in grey metal frames. 2008-2009.



Part-progress to Fermi’s Pile, to be shown with the monochrome, “Record Room” images.
This will be constructed from 180 units, around 30 are present here. I’m now looking at a dark grey phosphate finish, same on the photographic frames. The work will probably be titled “12.2.42” the American date for when this first went critical and so beginning the atomic era.

Chicago Pile-1, a massive “atomic pile” of graphite bricks and uranium fuel, which went critical on December 2, 1942, built in a hard racquets court under Stagg Field, the football stadium at the University of Chicago. Due to a mistranslation, Soviet reports on Enrico Fermi claimed that his work was performed in a converted “pumpkin field” instead of a “squash court”.


The NCA gallery space where the works will be shown, Jan. 2009.


NCA Gallery, Jan. 2009. This is probably the space I will be using. There are three potential rooms.


“Botanical Garden” or perhaps, “Role Call” or “All the Names”, “Looking for Eden”?
2008-2009 currrent work.

I may also show a few of the botanical label works, these are in progress. They began in Linz, in the summer of 2008, at the Transart residency. I’m thinking of God telling man all the names (to settle the argument with the angels). I’m thinking of Eden and a taxonomy for Eden. I’m gradually working my way towards that, reseraching Quaranic and Biblical texts and refernces.

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Notes on “The Frankfurt School” Collaborative Video, 2008.


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The “Frankfurt School
Video installation. David Alesworth and Adnan Madani. 2008.

(Short low res clip)

This collaborative video installation produced by David Alesworth and Adnan Madani originated in certain discussions between the two some years ago. Here the idea was posited of coercing members of “the public” to read critical theory, out loud, to the camera. The idea arose from the artists experience as teachers and the difficulties of getting students to read texts. Prompted to revisit the idea by a mutual friend, the project was begun in 2008 with a series of experimental shoots of art students, often tied or kneeling reading from Theodor Adorno’s book “The Culture Industry” Routledge, 2nd edition, 2001. After further interviews and video shoots the artists settled upon filming a group of law students reading from the text in an academic environment. This being a small lecture theatre. The artists intervened in the readings, often stopping the readers and requesting them to start again from the beginning. The readers were also asked some simple questions in the course of each two minute reading from the same piece of text. The subsequent video revealed a study in power and something of the politics of the classroom. “The Ignorant Schoolmaster” by, Jacques Ranciere is a text that both artists had been recently considering. Subsequently it was decided that the video required a second, disparate element that would run parallel to the video portraits. In the end this became the accompanying footage of a bookbinder dismantling the same text, Adorno’s “The Culture Industry” and producing from it a pile of folded and glued paper bags. These are common items in contemporary Pakistani street culture. The revered canonical text was ultimately reduced to a common disposable item that might be used for the sale of low value items. The two videos were streamed alongside each other in one fourteen minute loop initially. Upon first exhibiting the work, it was decided to set it up in the form of a video installation. This comprised of a large mounted plasma screen with audio, playing looped footage of the video portraits of the readers and the interruptions from the artists. On a table in front of this, not aligned to the main screen was a small LCD screen playing the silent dismantling of Adorno’s book. Next to this on the table was a neat stack of paper-bags, weighted down by a smooth white pebble, the bags having been produced from the pages of the book. The accompanying text:

The Frankfurt School

David Alesworth Adnan Madani

“We asked students from the Law Department of the Lahore University of Management Sciences to read aloud an essay written by the German critical theorist Theodor Adorno. We filmed them reading in the lecture auditorium, while asking them a variety of questions to test their grasp of the text. The individual sessions collectively form a series of portraits, or studies in power; the text itself was subsequently converted into an object of (first) use and then (later) fetish value.

– was presented as a museum label on the adjacent wall. The whole ensemble was encountered as a puzzle to be investigated and pieced together through the examination of the elements.

Autobiographical connotations and relevance to my current projec
(The creation of autobiographical works through video and other means.)

For myself (David Alesworth) the whole work has a strong autobiographical resonance. I have taught in art-schools in Pakistan for some twenty years, and struggled unsuccessfully to integrate some theory alongside studio practice, at a variety of schools in the country. In my art practice of twenty years of living in Pakistan, the transformation of material (and often content) through interaction with Pakistan’s urban crafts, of all forms has taken the central position. The production of the bags from the “western” text particularly resonates with this enduring concern.

This is the first major work that I have edited on a Mac and in Final Cut Pro. Adnan and I lite
rally googled our way through a number of the editing steps, Adnan seeking the tutorials on a laptop and interpreting them to me, whilst I attempted to follow these instructions on the editing i-mac.

Johnk(60 Seconds) was commissioned by Motiroti UK.
Produced and directed by David Alesworth. Lahore. 2008.

(Low res. complete video, one minute)

The video was filmed in my residence earlier this year. Through the use of a split screen the passage of Jahangir (my housekeeper) and myself towards the vegetable garden is documented. We travel over very different surfaces. Jahangir leaves his quarters and walks around the rear of the house where he lives with his wife and three children, largely outside. I travel from the hall, over plush rugs, through the carpeted lounge, dinning-room and kitchen to meet with him in the vegetable garden. Here we discuss in my poor Urdu and his limited English issues of vegetable growing and other topical subjects. Like the split screen footage, we are arranged either side of an improvised irrigation support. Both devices serve to underline the formal intimacy of our domestic lives. We are either side of the class divide. Having been plagued by slugs (Johnk) the conversation ends with their mention. We withdraw to our respective quarters, Jahangir’s door opens into his single room, amidst the chatter of his young family. I enter through my front door and toss my keys down. The video ends with a shot of my book on sustainable slug management practices. The video is about economic disparity in Pakistan today, post-colonial ghosts and eccentric English obsessions. I intend to make more work about slugs in the near future.

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“The Frankfurt School” Video Installation.


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David Alesworth and Adnan Madani, Nov. 2008.

(details of the installation….)




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