Sunday, 25 April 2010

TGH Photography Exhibition (DAWN article)

A Professional’s Touch

By Mahnaz Hasan

Capturing the world through the lens is all in a day’s work for a seriously hardworking Lahore amateur

Images have their own language. While the artist, transforms even the mundane into a work of art, the photographer uses images to communicate volumes to you — in a sweeping glance. As was the case during a recent exhibition at the Alliance Francaise, Lahore. Titled, One for the Road it was photographer Tahir Gul Hasan’s first solo exhibition.

Hasan, a self-starter in photography about thirty-five years ago, has refuse to embrace the discipline as a profession. He likes the freedom of being an amateur (Latin for “lover”), who can indulge in his other passions — music, writing and travel. He did, however, study the F/64 giants, the Magnum greats and the Surrealists, but drew his own conclusions and came up with his own perspective. One for the Road was the collection of street photography, which attracts him more than any thing else.

“I am only interested in capturing fragments of the ‘Inner Reality’ when they unfold before me,” explains Hasan. He prefers older equipment to the digital because he believes that “a dose of pain always yields creative gain” — which lends him a margin of creativity with a medium that has inherent limitations.

Tahir Gul Hasan’s exhibition (comprising forty-one exhibits) was a keen observation of the human condition, which he has converted into a story to be told. He appeared to pick out the human element in the spectacular and the sophisticated and present it against a pitch black background that not only lends a strong contrast to the image, but also boldly states his message, be it in the inherent abstraction and purity of black and white photography or in a playful splash of colour depicting interesting subjects.

While the Autumn in Paris, Shadow and its Butterfly and River Gilgit are brilliant examples of nature in its pure glory, the Eiffel Tower Toilettes, Old city/New city and The Wooden Bridge presented the mundane against the sophistication of modern day life.

His abstracts and still-life presentations are simple but beautiful in black and white as well as in colour. Star and Stripes, PIA No: 1, Flower and its Soul and Mad Cow at Ease displayed simple subjects with a fresh perspective, which only an amateur is perhaps capable of.

Hasan’s street portraits were the most interesting. No Jacket Required, Hubble-bubble and Boy in Trouble, Woodcutter’s Children, Lord of the Rings and Parts for Sale are brilliant examples of his rendition of the realities of ordinary existence, where he appears to be smiling at what he has captured — with the eye of a kindred soul.

One for the Road does not overwhelm your senses, as it is an uncluttered but creatively expert presentation of familiar mundane reality that you don’t have to spend hours to understand. The collection at the exhibition, was his favourite bests from his work so far — let’s watch out for more!


For more on this exhibition, please read 'Pictures In My Mind' by Tahir Gul Hasan

Friday, 16 April 2010

Cocaine-Filled 123 Condoms

Switzerland is such a peaceful little country that all the ill-gotten money and gold robbed by dictators and crooks lies in its numbered bank accounts, and they insist on providing full privacy and secrecy to their transactions. Since nothing criminal that is worth reporting ever happens in Switzerland, whenever something does happen, the press never fails to report it.

Recently, the border guards arrested a Nigerian drugs smuggler in Switzerland, with not one or two but 123 condoms stuffed with cocaine weighing 1.7 Kg in his stomach.

A spokesperson for the federal border guards said “the 123 condoms represented the equivalent of a 5.5 metre long string of sausages or 3.5 litres of milk in volume. It’s exceptional because the contents of just one of the condoms could have killed the carrier.”

Now obviously, the man was not dreaming of death when he agreed to do the dastardly deed but rather of life and money. He was among six people in a French-registered car who instead of stop when asked to, jumped a red light to speed past a border post near Geneva. They later received free medical care in the form of X-rays, which revealed that four of them were carrying a total of nearly three Kilograms of cocaine in their stomachs, in five centimetre condom packages coated with a waxy substance.

Two other similar cases were uncovered in Switzerland in the past four months in which nine people were arrested from France and Spain. Swiss border guards recovered all of the swallowed cocaine capsules after several days.

What is this world coming to? People are misusing condoms and using the device for a forbidden pleasure that ranks quite low on an average person’s must-do list: getting high on contraband drugs.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Sorcerer, Off With Your Head!

I beg God’s pardon if the king of a certain land is going to feel offended reading what I have written here.

In two of my older articles (Segregate Or Die, Fe-Male Without A Male Guardian), I narrated the sorry tales of women who got into trouble with the law; today we shall see how consulting horoscopes (I call them whore-oscopes) and predicting the future can land one straight in jail and beyond.

I have always maintained—in line with what the Qur’an states clearly—that predictions based on the movements of heavenly bodies is both a pseudo-science and a satanic deception. Allow me now to narrate the story of a man who predicted everybody else’s future but was unable to predict his own downfall.

Ali Hussain Sibat, a Lebanese man charged with sorcery, has now been sentenced to death in a certain land where opposing segregation of the sexes and standing up to question the authorities is punishable with death.

‘Sibat is scheduled to be beheaded next Friday’, May El Khansa, Sibat’s attorney told CNN.

Sibat's family came to know about the upcoming execution through an indirect source who knew the case well. So far, the Ministry of Justice has not commented on the matter.

El Khansa has gone as far as appealing to Lebanon's prime minister, Saad Hariri, and president, Michel Suleiman, to have the execution stopped. Amnesty International, the human rights group, has called on that certain country’s king to pardon Sibat.

What exactly did Sibat do? He is the former host of a popular call-in television show that aired on a Beirut-based satellite channel ‘Sheherazade’ and in which he predicted the future and advised his audience on many matters. In May 2008, while he was visiting a certain country to perform Umra (Islamic religious pilgrimage similar to Hajj), the religious police apprehended and charged with sorcery.

Sibat faced the court in November 2009, and which handed him a death sentence. He appealed the verdict in the Court of Appeal because he thought the initial verdict was premature.

Sibat’s attorney told CNN that ‘appeals court then sent the case back to the original court for reconsideration, stipulating that all charges made against Sibat needed to be verified and that he should be given a chance to repent.’

On March 10, the judges upheld their initial death sentence.

‘The court refused the sentence of the appeals court; my client will appeal the verdict once more,’ said Sibat’s attorney.

Let us stop right here and ponder over some questions.

How did Sibat—while living in Lebanon—harm the society of that certain land through his starry predictions?

Did he offend the royalty (Islamic royalty, if you do not mind) by predicting their not so rosy future?

Does the Qur’an stipulate death for sorcerers and blasphemers?

Is it right to arrest and condemn a person performing the Umrah?

Umrah and Hajj allow one to repent; since Sibat had applied to God for forgiveness, is it fair to ask him to repent before that certain land’s court?

And finally, I beg God’s pardon if the king of that certain land is going to feel offended reading what I have written.

May God help the king.