Late last month here on the blog I alerted you to an exhibit of Islamic art being displayed until April 27 next year at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.
I hadn't had a chance to see "Echoes: Islamic Art & Contemporary Artists" until this past weekend, and now I can report that it's well worth the trip, though the exhibit is not extensive and for some reason curators have split it up between two spaces, which makes it sort of inconvenient.
Well, three spaces if you count the "Pakistani Cargo Truck Initiative," which you should, and which you see in the photo above. The photo at left shows a close up of one of the panels on the truck, seen in the photo below right.
The truck was the project of a Kansas City artist named Asheer Akram, and a sign near the truck explaining it says it is "his version of the brightly adorned commercial trucks that are iconic of modern Pakistan."
When the truck isn't on display as an art installation it will be used as a mobile classroom.
But up close you realize it's made up of hundreds of tiny photographs.
Of the process of butchering animals at a halal butchery in Lahore, Pakistan. Nearby is a video in which the artist, Rashid Rana, born in 1968 in Pakistan, explains that assembly line slaughter was difficult for him to watch, but eventually he became desensitized to it, the way humans can become desensitized to other kinds of violence.
Indeed, on the day he shot the photos he used for this piece, former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan and a suicide bomber killed about 150 people, though on this date Bhutto herself escaped, only to be assassinated later.
I'm no expert on any kind of art, Islamic or otherwise, but what especially engages me in my limited exposure to Islamic art is the detail, the tiny figures often woven into the work.
At any rate, have a look at the exhibit and tell me if something strikes you more than "Red Carpet 3."
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STICKING UP FOR FAITH
Here's a good word for religion from someone who easily could have walked away from it because of the destructive things he witnessed within a religious community as a young man. If you find that religion is mostly about rules and mostly about being against this or that, you can be pretty sure it's out of balance.