Tuesday December 05, 2023

Artist depicts plight of non-Muslims in form of books of Latha

July 30, 2016

Julius John Alam’s exhibition ‘The candle kept burning’ is based on brutal killing of Shama and Shahzad Masih in Kasur


Julius John Alam is a renowned Lahore-based artist famous for using material indexical of the human body to create images. His exhibition started on Thursday at the Koel Art Gallery, titled “The candle kept burning”, based on the tragedy of Shama and Shahzad Masih, a Christian couple ruthlessly burnt alive by mob in Kot Radha Kishan, Kasur district, Punjab on November 4, 2014.

Through his work, the artist drew the attention towards the growing religious intolerance and lost inter-faith harmony.

In the past decade, the increasing religious discrimination can be witnessed in the entire Subcontinent. Narrow-mindedness is leading towards an unending circle of animosity.

“I condemn the brutal act that occurred in Kot Radha Kashan and the silence of a government over it,” said Shazia, one of the visitors.

Since 1980, over 51 lives have been lost as a consequence of the blasphemy law, and to portray this, the artist used Latha fabric which is extensively used to wrap a body before burial.

He created 51 books made out of Latha and placed it in a symmetry depicting the dead non-Muslims.

The books were left empty which was the utter depiction of the life of those murdered - absolutely unfamiliar.

“We should overcome the rapidly growing religious bigotry by promoting peace and Julius has done a marvellous job to do this,” said another visitor, Akbar Masih.

The use of a red thread to bind the pieces of clothes was symbolic in nature. It illustrated an alarming situation of the country with the growing intolerance.

 “I personally appreciate the concept of empty books; they carry the immense impact of human life,” said a visitor.

The books were placed on marble slabs fixed over bricks which interpreted the vulnerability of human life.

Why do we not allow people to live their lives according to their own wishes? Why do we impose a set pattern of rules and principles on them? Why liberty is endangered? These are the questions that strike one’s mind after visiting the exhibition. Poet Jaun Elia had once remarked, “We should agree over disagreements”, but in practice, it remains an unachievable notion.

“We live in an age where one can be killed because of their identity”, said Marukh Salman, a visitor. The exhibition will till August 8.