Different strokes: Maldives power transfer expressed through art

Two exhibitions currently taking place in the capital are offering their own unique takes on the controversial transfer of power in February- interpretations that are being expressed through a variety of mediums during the next few days.

Closely following the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP’s) announcement of their intention to hold the Exhibition of Public Inquiry (XOPI), the government-aligned religious-conservative Adhaalath Party held a press conference announcing their own art festival, Fall of a regime: An Artist’s View. Both exhibitions yesterday opened to the public and will run until tomorrow.

XOPI, organized by the MDP, is taking place in the grounds of Male’ City Council.  With the theme “Truth Is Ours”, XOPI features the work of many artists, who adopt a number of approaches to express their thoughts of the events surrounding the change in power.

XOPI was officially opened by President Nasheed on Monday (August 27). The event also doubled as the launching for a book titled “Naakaamiyaabuvi Himeyn Baghawaiy: Gaiy Birun Negee Badi”, meaning ‘The Failed Silent Coup: Fear Raised The Gun’.  The book’s author is the former president’s appointee to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Aishath Velezinee.

Representing the organizing committee of XOPI, Ali Saeed said to Minivan News “XOPI is like a public inquiry, a presentation of the people’s perception of the events of, and following, February 6. Since then, there has been a lot of artistic material being shared on social media. XOPI intends to provide a platform for these to be presented in the same place.”

One participant whose work forms part of XOPI explained that they were taking part in the exhibition to express feelings and concerns surrounding February 7.

“I am participating because this is another venue to express my thoughts and feelings about the coup, freedom, liberty and justice. At a time when our freedoms to assemble and express are getting limited, this space suddenly becomes very important to me,” said Fazail Lutfi, founding member of Emmenge.com, a website which creates stories about political and social issues.

Another artist, Maryam Omer, has produced an exhibit that introduces guests to the exhibition.

As the visitor opens the lone door placed in the middle of the pathway, they are met with the sight of a charging bull. Part of the description reads “Grasping to comprehend the reality of the situation and describe something so phantom and menacing in my head was the image of a charging bull at the door,” the artist explains. “What matters is the individual’s perception of a universal event. It’s important to express how we feel about the events that occurred back in February.”

Meanwhile,the Adhaalath Party organized exhibition at the National Art Gallery was officially opened by President Waheed at a ceremony held Monday afternoon. The exhibition features the work of one artist known simply as ‘Siru’. Siru’s work captures events from the controversial hanging of banners for last year’s SAARC summit and proceeds as a story, ending with a painting of Dr Waheed taking the presidential oath in February this year.

An Adhaalath Party representative at the gallery, Hussain Wafeer, told Minivan News yesterday that the 60 pieces exhibited were all painted by Siru in a span of no more than a month. The artist himself said he did not wish to speak with any media.

In response to widespread speculations about the religious-based party depicting people in drawings, and whether it conflicts with the party’s ideology, the Adhaalath Party has released a statement saying it is not prohibited in Islam to draw figures as long as the facial features are not detailed.

President of Adhaalath Party, Sheikh Imran Abdulla and Vice President Dr. Mauroof Hussein were not responding to calls at the time of press.

Both Exhibition of Public Inquiry and Fall of A Regime: An Artist’s View will be open to the public until August 30.


5 thoughts on “Different strokes: Maldives power transfer expressed through art”

  1. Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 7.834 Narrated by Muslim

    We were with Masruq at the house of Yasar bin Numair. Masruq saw pictures on his terrace and said, "I heard 'Abdullah saying that he heard the Prophet (saws) saying, "The people who will receive the severest punishment from Allah will be the picture makers.' "
    Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 3.428 Narrated by Said bin Abu Al Hasan

    While I was with Ibn 'Abbas a man came and said, "O father of 'Abbas! My sustenance is from my manual profession and I make these pictures." Ibn 'Abbas said, "I will tell you only what I heard from Allah's Messenger (saws). I heard him saying, 'Whoever makes a picture will be punished by Allah till he puts life in it, and he will never be able to put life in it.' " Hearing this, that man heaved a sigh and his face turned pale. Ibn 'Abbas said to him, "What a pity! If you insist on making pictures, I advise you to make pictures of trees and any other unanimated objects."

  2. dhiraasaa, so painting humans without a face makes it unanimated object? its still an animated object with no face. all still images are unanimated.

    the faceless paintings only prove the religious fanatics attempt to fool god and deceive the citizens by simply erasing the eyes...

  3. Thomas Kincaid + Jack Chick equals Siru.

    *goes back to drawing nude male figures in compromising positions because it is halal*

  4. This is a fascinating article.

    Creative expression, an opening of the heart, a freeing, helps to cultivate hope. I can not begin to express how profound I think this is, the expression of all of the pain through art!

    I would love to see the poor given the opportunity to depict their pain through art. We need to feel the pain of the sense of hopelessness of the poor. The poor express their pain through religious extremism at times because, broken hope shuts one off from a world which only has pain to offer, life becomes a grieving for the after life only. Also, drugs are very much something the poor do to heal their pain.

    If we could open up the creative expression of the broken, it could awaken hope. It could awaken within the rest of society why it is so important to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor and provide hope and opportunity.

  5. I have to commend Adalath for the black dog painting, on 7th Feb breakdown of events it portrays Dr Waheed very well..it would be lovely nameing the painting Kalhu Kuhthaa Whaeed...


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