Thursday, January 15, 2009

Review: Fine Art & Photo Story Exhibition

Reviewed on January 14th 2009.

The Fine Art & Photo Story Exhibition is been held at the National Art Gallery in Male, Maldives from 10th to 17th January 2009. Considering the amount of creative photographers and artists that exist in Maldives, these type of workshop exhibitions are a rare thing in our society. And this is something that deserves a standing applause, not only due to the fact it that it would promote art in the Maldives, it will also create a positive impact withing our social dynamics.

The photos' were more of a series where it told a specific story by the photographer. There were many free fine art sculpture type of exhibits as well. The atmosphere was filled with a live band playing soothing atmospheric music. Musicians from different bands collaborated and jammed while visitors could enjoy the art exhibits. The pictures I'm posting are from the Fine Art & Photo Story Exhibition. All rights are reserved by the respective artists.

The music as I said was performed by various musicians jamming together. These are some of the pictures of the band.

Appi from the band 1984 and Adham - Bassist from 0 Degree Atoll jamming at the exhibition.

Other Musicians from 'Atolls' music label. ( To my assumption)

The concept of the Fine Art & Photo Story Workshop exhibition was 'to create a platform for the young fine artists and photographers to learn from each others work and process'. The idea was to provide artists and photographers ground to explore and broaden their understanding of conceptual works, techniques and application.

"We wanted young artists and photographers to open their minds to more possibilities" says one of the Developer and Coordinator of the Workshop & Exhibition, Mr. Umair Badeeu.

"One picture can tell a story, but a series of pictures can be more impactful in telling a story" said Umair.

"These type of exhibitions are something we hope to create more frequently in the future"

The event was not only to create space for developing artistic skills, but to make art more accessible to the public and generate a creative dialogue in our society.

"The artists' enthusiasm was great!", remarked Hassa.

"They were are the one's who even requested for the bands in come in" said Hassa, who was helping in the National Art Gallery coordination.

There were couple of very creative Fine Art pieces including this one with pink slippers leading to a window that shows a paradise.

There was a cool piece of work were you got to peek through a hole in a box made of used tin from a roof, I've tried to post a picture below of what you see inside the when you peek through the hole. It was a unique concept of art. oh, you needed a flash light view this artistic creation.

The exhibition was not only about art. It was also a lot of mingling and making of new friendships in the creative society on Maldives. Many visitors were artists and photographers as well, giving their thoughts and appreciating their college's works.

I met a old friend of my from high school days. He is great artist and now works as a professional photographer.

I said "Long time no see man" (real name omitted)
"Hey, how are you, nice to meet you" says the guy
I asked "So how do you like the exhibition?". "Oh, its great" he says, as he really enjoys himself checking out the exhibits.
"Aren't you participating in this?" I asked.
"No, but I wish I did, and I'm definitely going participle[ate next time, this is a great thing they are doing".

I could feel the vibe of the place, it was very positive and enthusiastic. These are things the youth and the society as a whole miss. These are the kind of things that Islamic affairs should keep their noses out of, just like they should have from the new-year "disco issue" Thing. These are the solutions I mentioned in the 'Constipation of the Mind', these are actually ideal for it.

AS I was talking to the head In-Charge of the National Gallery - Mohamed Mamduh Waheed (Dommu), I noticed a contended grin on his face.

I asked "So how do you view such events since its kind of still new to the Maldives Public".

Dhommu said "This is what we want, this is what the National Gallery should stand for, to promote art in our country"

"Is this something we will be seeing in the future, such events to make the public aware and promote art? I asked.

"Definitely", he added "We hope more and more organizations will come up with events such as this"

I Loved this painiting

Young talented artists joined in support of artists and Photographers.
Appi from 1984

Below I have uploaded two videos for you to enjoy. Although you missed the real event, you still could take a few glimps from the scene. These are the type of events we need to create in our society.

Enjoy. And let creativity be what open the doors that lead us from this idle haze.

Thanks for who all those who were 'Involved' and helping me out with this post.

And also Thanks for the organizers. Nice Job.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Fighting Negativity In The Land of Subtraction

Negativitis. Ever heard of the disease? Ever heard people complain and be negative? Then you have heard of Negativitis.

"Negativitis cripples the human spirit" says Chuck Gallozzi in his very interesting article on Negative Thinking. He describes Negative Thinking as an 'insidious' disease.

He writes "It is as pervasive as the common cold, but far more damaging. It mutilates, cripples, and corrodes the human spirit. Those infected by it are broken men and women aimlessly plodding along. The dark clouds brooding over them obscure their vision and cause them to become confrontational, apathetic, and cynical. Their lives are like flat champagne, without any sizzle".

So I thought to myself, one of the biggest repercussions we as a society have suffered being ruled under an oppressive regime for thirty years, is acquiring this disease. Negativitis is everywhere, but in Maldives I think it is suffered exclusively by everyone and if there were classes of the disease, we would surely be in the "fatal negativitis" class. Well Addiction just got a rival to fight to get onto the top of the list along with Depression. So many people have told me "this is where you need to come to destroy your dreams". They do not know they are victims of Negativitis.

So how can we fight it? Of course you can go to a shrink and pop pills and be dazed the rest of your life. Or you could become a master of life management skills like Anger & Stress management. (If you ever do please let me know, cuz you would be in line to win some sort of award for sure). There is another solution that might sound a bit weird. Have you ever heard people say "An apple a day keeps the doctor away"? Well, I'm not talking about apples but something very close; Oranges! These are not just any average ordinary orange, these oranges are special. :

As written on the blog 'Phantoms & Monsters', Hugo Nanofsky, a biochemist, created these oranges. These Oranges contain THC, thus could be referred to as "Pot Oranges"(Heheh). How he achieved this was by combining Citrus sinesis with Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol. In other words these oranges contain the active ingredient in marijuana(THC) and would produce the same effect if eaten. Just joking, of course this is not the right nor the recommended way to fight Negativitis!

There's yet another way to fight Negativitis. Being Proactive.

Proactive - definition: "Acting in advance to deal with an expected difficulty; anticipatory: proactive steps to prevent terrorism".

Adj.1.proactive - descriptive of any event or stimulus or process that has an effect on events or stimuli or processes that occur subsequently; "proactive inhibition"; "proactive interference.

2.proactive - (of a policy or person or action) controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than waiting to respond to it after it happens.

Hmm. I can tell you something I did trying to fight the elements of Negativitis once. Although I was not aware or knew what I was actually doing at that time. Since I came across the quote "Pain stimulates creativity", it became my code of conduct whenever I had to deal with excessive negative energy. I channelled it outwards, putting the energy into creating something, writing a song or just plain nonsense, compose a piece of music to my best ability and vent out the 'Negativitis' steam. I had a guitar a long time ago that was very special to me, his name was Pain Stimulus.

He was named Pain Stimulus because:
-'Pain': to signify elements of Negativitis.
-'Stimulus': in Latin means "goad, prick". Or:

1. Anything that may have an impact or influence on a system -example: an economic stimulus

2. (physiology) Something external that elicits or influences a physiological or psychological activity or response.

3. (psychology) Anything effectively impinging upon any of the sensory apparatuses of a living organism, including physical phenomena both internal and external to the body.

4. Anything that induces a person to take action.

I curved the name Pain Stimulus on the guitar and decorated it by painting it. Pain Stimulus was always there, he was my best friend. He was there whenever Negativitis came and knocked on my door, we fought together and we survived. I do not where Pain Stimulus is today, we had to part our ways. And wherever he is today, I just want to say:

"Pain Stimulus, to me you would always be the best Fender Stratocaster in the whole wide world, (eventhough you were from Mexico).

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Live And Let Survive

“Safeguarding the rights of others is the most noble and beautiful end of a human being.”

- Kahlil Gibran -

Many youth have died in the past 2 years due to gang attacks that happened in broad day light on the streets. There were many people around who witnessed the attacks, although the attackers did cover their faces in most cases, identifying the attackers had been impossible for witnesses. Or so they say. This is not the real issue. This is not why the Police are unable to obtain enough witness statements that could prosecute the gangsters, it's a question of saving one's own skin over someone they do not know. Does this justify each one's obligation to their society to make it a better and safe place to live?

This is a little story about a gang fight and the police response after they arrived.

An expatriate worker had been harassed by a group of young fellows, possibly below the age of 18 years. These youngsters harassed this person and mugged MRF 5/- from him, according to witnesses present there. How many times have you heard on the street, or seen for yourself how disrespectful and discriminating people are towards expatriate workers, especially Bangladeshis and Indians? Junkies prowling on the street find these 'low class' expatriates easy prey for mugging and just plain harassment. Why? They are more helpless than the locals to get justice through the law, they can't retaliate and take revenge. But however not in this case.

During the time the expatriate got mugged, I was standing on my terrace having some time for myself. At this point I had no idea that anything unusual had happened. After some time I heard shouting on the street. As I looked I saw a group of 15 or 20 people in a fight, just near the Gadi Buru area, they exchanged blows with the young gang of kids. After the the fighting done the group that attacked the young gang took off to hide, and coincidentally they ran just below my street, some were carrying bricks and wooden clubs, and to my surprise all of them were all either Indians or Bangladeshis or both of these people. They did not look average expatriate workers because they were well dressed, consisted of huge guys and looked ready to kill. While I was digesting this and trying to make out what had happened, I heard more shouting again at the Gadi Buru area. When I looked down the gang of expatriates had disappeared, but the shouting was escalating near the Buru. My curiosity got the best of me and I found myself heading towards the shouting.

By the time I reached where the shouting was near the buru, a huge crowd had already gathered and the Police had arrived as well. Two Policemen carried an unconscious man into the Police van and hurriedly took off to the hospital with their sirens on. As I went and looked to where the excited crowd had surrounded mostly, there was blood on the pavement near a fallen bicycle. The bystanders who had witnessed the incident were elaborating it all at once.

From my deduction this is what had apparently happened. After the expatriates came and retaliated because the small group of youngsters had mugged one of their colleges, the youngsters had really got a taste of their own medicine, they were thoroughly thrashed and beaten, not bloodily or brutally, just the good old fist fight way. Therefore the little egos of the little 'wannabe' gangsters had been pricked in front of everyone.

After the huge group of expatriates left, few minutes later a Bangladeshi had arrived to the near mosque to collect water with a container, he was someone who had nothing to do with what had just happened, nor was he in anyway connected to the group of expatriates who had retaliated. Thus to feed their pricked ego, the youngsters attacked this innocent person and had hit him at the back of his head with a wooden club, he was knocked out cold instantly. According to the bystanders the youngsters then ran away and disappeared, and there was not one person in the crowd who knew who they were, unsurprisingly.

Since the firstly arrived Police had taken the injured victim to the hospital, there were no police there for at least 15 minutes. Some fellows were trying hard to not get any evidence hindered by the passing vehicles, as there was quite an amount of blood, some items that belonged to the victim scattered on the street and the fallen bicycle. At last the Police arrived and tried asking the gathered crowd what had happened. Mostly what all the bystanders had said was that the victim just came here and a group of fellows had attacked him and ran away, that's all. Nobody knew who they were, but admitted it was a group of youngsters that hangs around at that area frequently.

"This is the problem" said the Policeman. "Once we arrive at a crime scene witnesses are so vague and reluctant to give information, so how can we Police find those responsible?".

I did not think twice. I gave them my deduction. I told the Police about the initial harassing of the lone worker that led to mugging MRF5/-, and how a huge gang of expatriates had come and retaliated. I told them due to the retaliation, the youngsters afterward had just attacked an innocent person going to collect water from the mosque for revenge.

"Do you know the people who did this?" the policeman asked me. I told him I saw the initial attacks standing on my terrace, and that I have just told them the real story of the incident. But according to the police since I did not see clearly or know the people who did it, my statement was not very credible. But there were people who were there and saw everything that had occurred, but they chose not to speak or talk to police in a way that would identify the youngsters who had attacked the victim. We have reached the point I had made at the beginning of this post. Why is the public so afraid to help the police? Of course its due to the fear of a revenge attack by gangs, but what is the root problem?

I have not heard of a Witness Protection programme in Maldives. And I would not know if it could be even possible in a small country like ours.

The Police Commissioner had justified recently that its not the police who are incompetent in catching criminals, its the public's lack of courage to come forward and the loop holes in the justice system that lets offenders off out onto the street as easily as they are brought in.

The deeper I contemplate to find the root cause of this social behavior, I find myself going through the same list and down the same road that leads to the same conclusion. The fear, incompetent police, holes in the justice system, social values, residues of a corrupt regime, on and so forth. We habitually externalize our problems and short comings, blame it on someone else when we are the actual problem. And I think one thing I'm sad to admit is the lack of empathy we have towards others, and our racist outlook on the people from our neighbouring countries.

If even for once people chose to stand in the victim's shoes or someone who is related to the victim, they could empathize and feel what they would feel. Ask yourself. How would you feel if while you visit India, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh and gets mugged, harassed and made to feel inferior where ever you go? How would you feel to be treated like an animal in a foreign land?

This is one thing we as Maldivians have to accept and change within our social beliefs; a huge amount of the Maldivian public is racist and self-absorbent. Not only do we ignore, (for whatever reasons), a murder happening in front of our eyes, a slaughtering of our country's own youth, we care less than we would do even for a rag when we treat these poor struggling expatriate workers. Is this the Islamic values we claim to follow? Or are these beliefs and selfish attitude an outcome of social upbringing that happens inside our homes?

I could have described to the police where the expatriate gang that had retaliated had gone to, since I saw them get away standing on my house's terrace, but I chose not to. They did the same thing you would do (if you could), if your friends or family got mugged or attacked at every corner constantly, there's no protection from the law and you keep being victimized, over and over and over again, it was already due in coming. To me it was justified. So I chose to understand and give silence when I felt it was the right thing to do. The gang of youngsters escaped with a few scrapes and a few black eyes. But unfortunately the victim who got injured simply by being at the wrong place, at the wrong time was put in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and then a few days later was taken abroad for extensive medical attention.

He did not survive.