KARACHI: A two-day exhibition of photographs taken by Salman Alam Khan titled Knitted Beliefs opened at Pakistan Chowk on Saturday evening.
Perhaps the reason the artist wants to emphasise the word ‘knitted’, which is generally not associated with the art of photography, is to show the seamless way in which different religious communities in the country are linked. Salman is also a film-maker, as has been mentioned in his bio, which has led him to travel all across Pakistan. In the exhibition, though, the attention is on a particular part of Karachi, which is known, or lesser known, for the convergence of diverse religious backgrounds. It’s called Narayanpura. It is a noble thought: the coming together in harmony of people of different faiths.
But, for sure, that’s not it. The message is important, and just as important is the medium. Salman is a photographer. Therefore images matter to him –– images captured in the best possible way in terms of lighting, posturing, the space given to the subject matter and the space where there is little focus.
There are some noteworthy photographs on display, primarily because of the angle that the artist has chosen to take them from. Narayanpura in Ranchhore Lines is an old neighbourhood which over the years has undergone many architectural changes. Still, there is that touch of pre-partition look to it. Couple it with the content that the photographer is trying to put across, and you get an aesthetically pleasing and contextually rich result. The image that stands out is of a Sikh gentleman walking in front of a wall on which ‘Merry Christmas’ is written. It evokes the kind of pluralism that the city was once known for.
On the other hand, there is also a picture of a building that highlights how social and political unrest can impinge upon the physical existence of a metropolis. The blotched and smudged exterior of the structure makes it look like an unfinished realistic painting.
The exhibition is organised by the Pakistan Chowk Community Centre (PCCC).
Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2018