Pakistan Is A Toothpick, Says Artist


Sculptor and artist Munawar Ali syed believes we live in an “age of deception” – the information we receive is made palatable by Teleprompters and fixed smiles. His latest exhibit, Reloaded has been influenced by toothpicks and how they are good analogies for Pakistans role in the war against terror. The exhibition opened on Tuesday and will remain till March 2.

There are a total of 19 pieces, six made purely of toothpicks, three are carvings, and there are six reliefs (wall- rnounted) optical illusions. Syed openly admits that his work is “a little ant media”. He uses “pretty faces in the optical illusions, which clash with, the ugly news on television. You see spikes next to the faces; its a dialogue between reality and deception.”

In keeping with the theme of trickery, the optical illusions are all faces with Mona Lisa eyes that follow the observer as he or she moves. “I want the viewer to be part of that confusion and ambiguity which led to my work,” said Syed in his statement.

Syed claims he was inspired while flipping through television channels after dinner one night. He chanced upon international news channels, bemoaning Pakistans lack of contribution to the war against terror. All the while he was cleaning his teeth with a toothpick. He found that some of the residue was so well lodged in his teeth that he could not remove them without puncturing his gums.

It dawned on him that as a country, “we play the role of toothpicks, when you eat something nice and it gets stuck in your teeth you clean it out with a toothpick. It is our role to clean out the leftover dirt such as the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Once the militants were the heroes because they were opposing Russia, and now they are the antagonists and have to be removed.” The faces made of toothpicks are of everyday people, “but if you look carefully their heads have aeroplanes perched on them, symbolising drone attacks”.