KARACHI: What does it take to be a human being? This, ostensibly, sounds like a pretty simple question. But put it in the context of everyday goings-on in the world — the political uncertainty, the social turmoil, the media hysteria, class disparity, discrimination on multiple grounds, etc — and the answer to the question will not be an easy one to find. This is precisely the reason that today artists examine whether having a sentient life form is enough to qualify as a human being.
This is also the subject of an exhibition of fascinating artworks by Sara Pathan Khan titled Only Human,which is under way at the Canvas Art Gallery.
The one thing that clearly stands out in the show is how much hard work has gone into Sara’s creative output on display for viewing. The subject is sensitive enough to merit attention but it’s her technical versatility that impresses the viewer with equal intensity, if not more.
Let’s fleetingly look at more than three dozen artworks in the exhibition. Sara makes political statement through pieces such as ‘The Civilians’ and ‘Where Borders Meet‘ and does not overlook other important aspects of day-to-day existence that makes us [feel] human. So there’s also ‘The Bride’, an example of the brittleness of an individual — brittleness caused by external circumstances, open to both interpretation and exploitation.
How does she achieve that? It’s the technique, about which the gallery tells us: “The artist captures the fragility of life by transforming empty bullet vessels into diminutive sculptures. The sensitivity of the material symbolises the vulnerabilities and complexities of human life.”
The realisation and the presentation of ‘vulnerabilities and complexities’ in one sentence, and through each exhibit, are worthy of being appreciated. It’s like seeing something that you’ve already seen but with a new pair of eyes.
The exhibition concludes on Thursday (today).
Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2023