QUESTIONING THE MUNDANE
Abdul Halik Azeez
Photography is evidently one of the most contemporary of art forms; it is an efficient and universal means of communicating facts between people and nations. Photographs mould our social consciousness, approaching our realities and that of others. However, when does photography transform into a work of art? In conversation with artist Abdul Halik Azeez, who began his journey as a photojournalist, we discuss the capacity of his photographs to mirror his perspective as an artist while exploring his creative influences in instigating his artistic expression.
Abdul Halik Azeez completed his MA in English Literature and Linguistics at the University of Granada in 2017 and an MA in Financial Economics at the University of Colombo in 2010. His selected exhibitions include ‘Colombedouin’, at Saskia Fernando Gallery in 2014; Borderland Brokers in Colombo and London in 2018; ‘Embodying Power’ at Sapumal Foundation, Colombo in 2018; ‘Coast and Concrete’ at Saskia Fernando Gallery in 2017; ‘In Search for Stillness’ at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 2017 and Colomboscope, 2019, 2017, 2016 and 2015.
Halik began by stating that exploring the larger questions of life is his primary creative influence to his photography, which strictly involves a process of observing, questioning and interpreting his own reality with that of the outer world. Evidently, while the photographer is exposed to a dialogue between realities, it is the artist in him that connects with that of the concrete, metaphorical, factual and fiction in his works.
“In 2018, through the exhibition Embodying Power at the Sapumal Foundation, I dealt with the subject of self that I experienced during my late twenties”. Halik reveals that the questions he probed were that of identity in relation to culture and religion. “Titled ‘Myself’, this collection is a reflection on where I stand in relation to my ongoing existential crisis. This uses my learnings from Althusser, Lacan, Foucault and follows through with a deconstruction of my reality”. In probing these aspects, the final installation of the exhibition comprised a significant collection of photography including passport pictures as Halik finds them to be subtle representations of determining systems of power prevailing on one’s identity assigned by society. From selfies taken across a mirror, headshots of the artists to journal entries and sketches, the artist recollects memories, expressions, and formation of his identity into a single space.
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