Living with Strangers

NOVEMBER 30, 2013

Guests at Adnan Samuel Javed's solo exhibit- "Deny"
Cuts, cracks and anonymous human figures fill the compositions of Adnan Samuel Javed's prints. Adnan was born to a Christian family in Lahore, Pakistan and is currently teaching while practicing his art. Last year he held a solo exhibit at the Al-Hamra Art Gallery, entitled "Deny". The theme was from Psalm 133: "How pleasant it is when God's people live together in peace". The artworks dealt with his experiences when he separated with his wife and the importance of relationships between individuals, communities and countries.

One of his prints shows a thin line cutting across two figures splitting them in half. According to him this is what happens when the divine union between two people is broken. They do not become separate individuals, but halves. The figures are mere silhouettes emphasizing the process of un-knowing.

This project was not entirely focused on his personal pain. Adnan also explores the relationships and interaction between communities and countries. He recognized that the same (negative) behaviour and attitude that creates cracks in personal relationships are also cause of misunderstandings in society. It then can result to disagreements and the eventual breaking of bonds. Once the bonds are broken it is easy to be insensitive to other people’s needs and suffering as they become mere strangers.

LEFT-RIGHT: "Untitled", "Untitled", "Separation", 8x8in, Print: ink on waste artpaper
Christian minorities in Pakistan have been facing violent discriminations for years -the burning of a Christian village in Shanti Nagar (1997) and churches in Gorja (2007). This year has been rough for them as they suffer losses after the mob attack on the Christian community in Badami Bagh last March and the bombing at the church in Peshawar last September 22. Adnan lost fifteen of his relatives in this last incident.The culprits of such abuses are rarely punished and the victims are still waiting for proper compensation and justice. The shadow of uncertainty looms over Pakistani Christians as they they cope with the grief, damage and the fear of living in such troubled times.

As a member of this minority, Adnan sympathizes with his fellow Christians. He aims to shed light to their suffering through his art. His exhibit not only depicts the agony of separation but also serves as reminder to value relationships. If people recognized their connection with one another it would be impossible to cause each other harm. “God’s people” does not refer to a particular group or race but includes all creation. It is by encouraging dialogue that people can bridge misunderstandings, nurture relationships and ultimately love one’s neighbour. In this way we would not become strangers among each other.