Source: The Citizen
With a sharp eye for detail, Bilal Asif carefully labours over his quest for a pointedly unusual world record – crafting the largest swing ever made from pencils.
Asif combs over his creation inside his studio in the southern megacity of Karachi, fine-tuning details with a razor blade and mulling new decorative additions.
“My main objective was not only to make the pencil swing but I aspired to make it with as much creativity as I could,” said the artist.
By January, Asif plans to register his work for the Guinness Book of World Records. He has used up to 30,000 pencils in total, cut into more than 100,000 pieces.
The swing rests on massive posts resembling pencils, while colourful pastel designs give the structure a touch of South Asian flamboyance, drawing striking similarities to the artwork decorating the ubiquitous “jingle trucks” that barrel down roads across Pakistan.
Striving to break world records is the norm in neighbouring India, which holds a suite of peculiar Guinness plaudits including the largest number of people to sing a national anthem in unison.
But Pakistan, which split from India at independence from Britain in 1947 and has viewed it as an archrival ever since, has yet to match its neighbour’s enthusiasm for quirky world record glory.
The achievement would cement a goal sketched out since Asif’s youth, when he began collecting pencils from all over the world.
“Some people criticise my work but I don’t react to them,” he said.
He likes to point out that the swing is not just about breaking records, drawing a line between his art and his quest to promote friendship abroad.
“This is not only a world record but this is a message of peace from the whole Pakistan to the other countries through this art,” Asif adds. “This is my aim.”
By Kristen Stephenson for Guinness World Records
Julian Martinez was told by his own art class that crafting a mural using just pencils was impossible – but he’s proved them wrong by creating the largest pencil drawn mural.
While no one seemed to have confidence in his abilities, the 24-year-old never failed to believe in himself.
It was this doubt that motivated the Colombian artist to spread his talent across 84.86 m² (913 ft² 61 in²) of wall to earni his Guinness World Records title.
Julian wasn’t always interested in art, so this ambition was quite the mission to take on.
The teacher had previously been studying agriculture production, but realised after several years he had a passion for the arts and sought out to become a tattoo artist.
Thus, he began a 48-day project titled La Realidad Absoluta, which translates to Absolute Reality.
The idea behind his image is show that although others may be different from one another, we can adjust the human perspective to see eye to eye.
Although Julian began the illustration alone, his students and others in the community of Roldanillo came out to help him finish the massive piece upon seeing his intense commitment.
After going through 1 200 pencils, and sketching despite blisters and intense heat, the team of artists now have a detailed canvas exemplifying their hard work.
Maria de Los Angeles, an artist from the United States, has created a number of dresses from paper. The dresses serve as a medium to speak about the history of colonialism, migration and those without a home.
What is this dress?
I made it out of paper. I call it “the family dress” — on the front is a portrait of me with my nieces. The idea was for the dress to look European, but also speak to the history of colonialism. It’s about migration and being ungrounded. I have another dress that I wore to the fashion exhibit at the Met that had phrases on it like DEPORT ME and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). I’ve been making dresses like this for the past two months for a show I’m having in June at Front Art Space. I was thinking that art, when it looks political, people don’t want to engage with it. But a beautiful dress? I’m curious if a dress can make people engage.
“The idea was for the dress to look European, but also speak to the history of colonialism.”
~ Maria de Los Angeles, artist
Where are you from?
I was born in Michoacán, which is in the south of Mexico. I’m the oldest of eight, and my siblings and I were smuggled across the border in a van when I was 11 — they pretended we were someone else’s kids, and we were given Tylenol so we’d be asleep during the border crossing. We were brought to Los Angeles, to our aunt’s apartment with these brown rugs, and our first meal was pineapple pizza, which I hated. Something about the sweet pineapple with the tomatoes. I remember thinking it was just wrong.
By Alexis Swerdloff for www.nymag.com
Photo credits: Bobby Doherty