Poster show marks human rights day
By: Anil Datta
Karachi: There are a hundred and two of them, adorning the walls of the Ahmed Pervez Art Gallery of the Pakistan Arts Council, Karachi. If the viewer were endowed with a superlatively fertile imagination, he would have no problem fathoming the message behind the posters.
The poster exhibition was held to mark International Human Rights Day (December 10). The theme of the exhibition was “Gender Equality—Now”. Visitors admired the talent and the profundity with which the artists managed to get the message across. They gave them due credit for their artistic finesse and their fertile imagination.
There are 100 posters from the world over and two from Pakistan. One of these is by Huda Afzal, a third year student of fine arts from the University of Karachi.
The poster, apparently, is very simple with a slogan reading, “How can we have gender equality when a girl is doomed to prejudice even before she’s born?” What lends it intricate poignancy is that within the loop of the O in How, there is a human foetus connotative of the birth of a child. Being a fine arts student, Huda is obviously familiar with such subtle techniques which drives the message home in a profound way, touching on our millennia-old tribal value pattern whereby a woman is not considered a human being in her own right but is supposed to be a man’s trophy and an inferior form of creation.
Then there’s one which at first can be recognised to be the South American revolutionary Che Guevara but on closer scrutiny Che’s face is painted with a woman’s cosmetic paraphernalia, powdered cheeks, rouge, and mascara on the eyelids, and on even closer scrutiny, one detects a trace of the Hollywood sex symbol of yesteryear, Marilyn Monroe. The painting is titled, ‘Marilyn Guevara’, the whole objective of the exercise being to convey the message that Marilyn Monroe’s contribution to feats of human endeavour was no less than Che’s.
In his own way, the artist has conveyed that the idea of gender equality and gender equality is an idea that are not opposed.
However, the poster with the most profound message is one showing the blackened silhouette of a nude woman with her body arched. The poster, titled, “Advertisement”, has the sub-heading, “Objectification of woman”.
Now this is something none of us could deny or disagree with. In the true capitalist tradition, woman has been used as an object by the corporate sector as a means of attracting clientele to fatten its profits. Women are shown in advertisements and posters in the most tantalising (read obscene) of postures along with suggestive messages to prey on the suppressed emotions hidden within the innermost recesses of the male psyche. Especially in the West, which is the cradle of the system euphemistically called capitalism, it is not uncommon to see virtually nude women featured in advertisements to promote the sales of the most asexual of merchandise like hot water bottles.
The exhibition is being held by the Paris-based organisation, Posters for Tomorrow, and is on simultaneously in 30 countries to mark International Human Rights Day.