KARACHI: Half a million rupees were raised for charity on Saturday at the Indus Valley School (IVS) photo auction organised by the Acumen Fund for Pakistan.
Titled ‘Dignity’ the auction has travelled through many international cities including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto, Dubai and many more and has been successful in raising $80,000 for the Acumen fund.
“This is the first time it is being held in Pakistan,” says the curator Aesha Arif. On further enquiry, it was found that an international philanthropic volunteer group came up with the idea of utilising the work of various artists from all over the world to raise charity. “The last thing you can take from a person is his dignity and that is what these photographs depict,” she added.
Twenty photographers reporting or working on disaster hit areas showed their work from which “a good chunk of the pictures” were taken from Pakistan. The theme centered the core value of dignity and the pictures depicted a strong message of strength amid chaos.
The guests came in fashionably late and the bidding started an hour after the scheduled time but the 30 photographs adorning the walls at IVS kept the audience bustling with excitement.
In a picture taken during the 2005 earthquake which killed and displaced millions, a group of people were pictured offering prayers on the debris that was their home. “These pictures are really moving, it shows how one continues to move forward despite everything,” said a student, Shifa Quraeshi.
“It looks as if the photographers had not planned any of it,” said a man standing near a picture of a shrine in Multan. “It looks really natural and the pain and anguish of seeing a shrine being bombed still resonates,” he added.
Arif Mehmood, a well known photographer of Pakistan, called the pictures “strong and powerful”. Standing beside a black and white picture he took of a man trying to save his animals during the floods, he said that he wanted the pictures to speak for themselves. “I go for black and white depending on the frame of mind I’m in at that very moment. When I was contacted I already had these pictures which I had taken during the floods. It feels good that it can help someone out now,” added Mehmood.
The collection of photographs also displayed pictures of festivals from India and exhibited pictures that depicted the turmoil and chaos in Kenya and Nairobi.
Among the many people who flocked in later, was Hussain Afzal, a photo journalist currently working at the White Star. Pointing at the picture he took during the blast that occurred in a procession in December 2009, he says that problems can at times give you the strength to move forward. The picture was of a fire fighter who was standing inside a burnt shop; the orange, gray and black hues in the picture stood out beautifully.
“Journalism was never an option for me, it was by chance completely, I feel happy about two things; one the amount generated by this picture will go to charity and secondly, I got a chance to showcase my work with such great artists,” adds Afzal.
Tapu Javeri was another photographer who showcased his work at the exhibition. Javeri captured a breathtaking picture of a little boy standing in a dingy street, “The point is not how big or small the photographer is at the end of it, it is the emotion behind a picture that matters,” he was heard telling the curator.
The bidding started from Rs18,000 and despite the upscale price being a slow process, the bid got higher as guests poured in.
Sadaf Rehman, an associate of the Acumen Fund, was happy that the event generated so much interest. Levying the work of local photographers paid in a huge way she said as “their work is beyond excellence”.
The exhibition attracted many artistes from all walks of life and managed to sell 22 paintings raising half a million rupees for charity.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2011.