‘SEMA’ – the whirling dance

'Sema' - solo show of Abul Kalam Azad
‘Sema’ mix-media print on painted hard wood / 30 cm x cm / 2014

What I may not see, let me not see;

What I may not hear, let me not hear;

What I may not know, I ask not to know…

Beloved, I am contented with both thy speech and thy silence !!!

‘Sema’, solo print show of Abul Kalam Azad is the third of the yearlong ‘Photography and beyond’ exhibition series organised by EtP as part of Project 365 – the yearlong public photo art project. In this recent works, Abul has fused found litho prints, archival pigment prints on painted hardwood… the show also features two digital print on silk.

'Sema' mix-media print on painted hard wood / 30 cm x 30 cm / 2014
‘Sema’ mix-media print on painted hard wood / 30 cm x 30 cm / 2014
'Sema' mix-media print on painted hard wood / 30 cm x 30 cm / 2014
‘Sema’ mix-media print on painted hard wood / 30 cm x 30 cm / 2014
'Sema' pigment print on silk / 54 cm x 54 cm / 2014
‘Sema’ pigment print on silk / 54 cm x 54 cm / 2014

The Sema (whirling dance) of the dervishes is an expression of the cosmic joy experienced by the simultaneous effect of annihilation and glorification. Sema is the witnessing of the state of perceiving the mysteries of the God through the heavens of the divinity. It is to fight with one’s own self, to fight, to flutter desperately like a half-slaughtered bird, bloodstained and covered with dust and dirt. Sema is a secret. There is a time with god and during this time neither angel nor prophet can intrude. Sema is to attain that place where even an angel cannot go…

'Sema' - solo show of Abul Kalam Azad
‘Sema’ mix-media print on painted hard wood / 90 cm x 90 cm / 2014

P P Sha Nawas is an author / Independent writer based in Kerela. He has traveled much in South India and has written many articles in the field of art, archeology, theology, culture and photography. His articles have been published in several prominent malayalam newspapers and periodicals which has also been translated to English and published in art magazines across India. He has written the following piece about the ongoing SEMA show:

“Kalai Illam is a small space for art and photography at Thiruvannamalai. The house turned into a gallery space has witnessed many shows of eminent artists since its inception a year ago. Right now, ‘SEMA’ a print exhibition of photographer Abul Kalam Azad is being exhibited. In this recent series, Abul has used the found lithographic popular prints, fused on painted hardwood; digital pigment prints on silk, paper etc., . SEMA, the show titled, talks of a time when men and God communicated without a middle man, neither through the medium of a saint nor a prophet. SEMA shows the part images of our well known saints and gurus, printed in the wooden circles. Why part images of these revered personalities like Narayana Guru, Saradamba, Ambedkar, Vivekananda and God images of Hanuman and others? May be, it is connoting the current scenario of the lost faces of our saint teachers, in the ego driven greedy world of spirituality which is commercialized and marketed. The teachers’ teaching have been lost… instead their images are venerated and adored without any reasonable reason behind!!! Reign of the images, the age of spectacle, according to Debore, is the rule of the day. And, this desperate situation is depicted in a special way in these works. The technique of pop art is used to make an ambiance of sarcasm, as always a characteristic feature of Abul Kalam Azad’s works. Abul’s works for the last couple of decades have been transformed into capturing part images of the objects, instead of usual technique of framing and seeing the entire object. These part images invoke a bunch of memories which may lead the onlooker to his lost past. Photography always leaves traces of nostalgia, and Abul uses this characteristic of his medium to its height and breadth. These prints also provide a rich memory of our cultural past and renaissance fervor.

'Sema' mix-media print on painted hard wood / 90 cm x 90 cm / 2014
‘Sema’ mix-media print on painted hard wood / 90 cm x 90 cm / 2014

Two other prints, which is also round in shape, are marvelous works that Abul has done recently, in which the tiny image of TAJMAHAL and the gopura of Madurai MEENAKSHI temple is captured. The starry night and moon lit ambiance engulfs the images. The gopura of the temple is seen from the view of an arch, which invokes a Mughal architectural motif. And the tiny image of TAJMAHAL, is counter posed with a railway line under. What is meant by this subtle juxtaposition? Connoting something historical? Invoking some historical evolution of our tradition of seeing and viewing? These prints have many things to say, the architectural resemblance of TAJ and the Temple Gupura, the Persian and Egyptian influences and references of Indian architecture could be one way of understanding. It also could be interpreted through the ongoing process of political change that has changed our perception of viewing things. Dynasties and rules change the style and functioning of our viewing. A new ruling ideology may make paradigm shift in our seeing and viewing things. These part images of Gopuram of a South Indian temple and and Tajmahal are thus talking a story of changing political situation. It is like seeing reality through the ideology of the rulers. But the aesthetic aspect of these works should speak by themselves. Not by descriptive words, but by seeing and assimilating the visual itself…”


Disclaimer: All rights reserved. All the images published in this post is a photograph of the prints of Abul Kalam Azad taken by project 365 photographer Arnav Rastogi and belongs to EtP Archives. Text (C) PP Sha Nawas. Reprinting / publishing rights reserved by the author and EtP Archives. Prior permission is required for reproduction / re-publishing. For more information about Project 365, contact EtP at {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405 / ekalokam@gmail.com/ FACEBOOK – Project 365

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