Veena Malik Project
The six body-painting based art pieces below were released at a London exhibition on the 16th of August 2013. According to a cautious estimate by a Pakistani journalist Arshad Farooq, this project has been seen at least by around 300 million people world wide. This, most likely, makes them the most seen visual works by a Finnish artist.
In Flower of Life we see 6 images of Veena – the geometric shape alluding to the Merkaba (commonly noted in the Star of David), the very shape that makes up the chariot which is capable of ferrying us to the afterlife. In addition, there is the reference to angels as evoked by Judaic, Christian and Muslim traditions. Looking at the six Veenas one also gets the sense of an episodic circular drama unfolding – a series much in keeping with the Hindu idea of existence; while from the outside, all six look as if they are part of a chaotic development – chaos itself being an association to the Chinese traditions. Although Judeo-Christian and Muslim beliefs see life as an interim prior to a heavenly (or hellish) afterlife, many pagan traditions see life as the most heavenly part of the cycle while afterlife represented a threatening realm akin to hell. In Kivinen’s world, these complex belief systems are aligned and differences depend solely on the viewer’s perspective.
“What occurs is a reinvention of cultural norms as we understand them” – AIsha Farooq on Artevo / Veena Malik Project on DesiBlitz 8/2013
“In an effort to protect Veena from the possible onslaught of religious fanatics, Kivinen decided to pay an extraordinary amount of attention in ensuring that the project could not be misunderstood. It would be morally irreproachable and avoid sexually suggestive imagery. Eschewing the politicizing of religion, he immersed himself in a comprehensive study of women and their role in religion. For Kivinen this necessitated a full commitment in researching world religions and their respective traditions. Since artworks relied on visuals, the study would also entail a comparative understanding of the symbolism used in different traditions and the female’s place within the respective iconography.
“In an effort to protect Veena from the possible onslaught of religious fanatics, Kivinen decided to pay an extraordinary amount of attention in ensuring that the project could not be misunderstood. It would be morally irreproachable and avoid sexually suggestive imagery. Eschewing the politicizing of religion, he immersed himself in a comprehensive study of women and their role in religion. For Kivinen this necessitated a full commitment in researching world religions and their respective traditions. Since artworks relied on visuals, the study would also entail a com
On the day of the opening, a prominent group of Pakistani and Indian journalists gathered in the gallery; a dead silence pervading the room. It was as if the slightest mistake could have set off a Fatwah. All were aware what it meant in a Muslim community for a woman to pose naked. But no sooner had the people seen the works than it became evident that what they were witnessing was art. Not even the most hardened skeptics were able to fault the works for being arousing or pornographic in nature. Though Kivinen was still worried about the consequences of offending the Muslim community, he realized that even laymen instinctively knew that these works were spiritual in nature and not even remotely exploitative.” – Rory Winston, Cultural editor for NY Resident, 2014
The multi-talented and famous Bollywood actress Miss Veena Malik took a week to fly to Finland to collaborate with Vesa in September 2012. The whole thing was inspired by a video, where Veena had to defend herself as a woman and an artist. The works are currently on display for the first time at Helsinki Capital Partners.
Here are the Vesa & Veena works on the Impact show on BBC World.
“The Artevo / Veena Malik project was about finding common ground in cultural exchange between world faiths. It is a project about our collaborative potential, no matter how seemingly far apart we are.” -Vesa
From around 20-mins onwards you can listen to a whole hour and a half of Vesa being interviewed about the works on LuvAsia Radio with Dav Singh. From around 53mins starts a more in depth analysis of the Veena works.
The project philosophy is based on studying the similarities between multiple religions and cultural phenomena. The works were influenced by the work of Ken Wilber and Alan Watts and Joseph Campbell to mention a few.
The ‘add on’ text of the press release is available for download here
During her stay in Finland, as well as doing the actual works we met with politicians, other artists, journalists as well as managed to escape to the countryside for some inspiration.
20% out of profit will be donated to a clean water project.