Friday, August 20, 2010
By Emaan at 1:05 PM
Alright. First thing first. The initial driver behind this slow regression from my blog was this exhibition that I was working on. Disrupting Systems was the 2010 Masters graduation exhibition of the Piet Zwart Institute of the Willem de Kooning Academy, and I was part of this. No, unfortunately just barging into an exhibition doesn't get you a degree, therefore, this reality still renders me an under-graduate. The exhibition was at the former Fotomuseum (future WORM) in Rotterdam between the 2nd and the 19th of July. It included works by four graduating students and about seven of the 1st year students.
Anyways. Of the four graduating students was Farrah Shakeel, an international student here from Pakistan, and with whom my interest lies. I met Farrah completely randomly through this monstrosity of the virtual web, as I have a few other nice people as well. Through our initial talks I got to know what she was working on for her thesis, and that kind of led me into becoming more and more interested in somehow becoming a part of it. It was very me-relevant; it was about the Pakistani immigrants in Europe, specifically focusing on women and this whole issue of migration and integration. We had lots of talks around this, and she was also concerned about the vastness of the subject, and mutually we sort of landed on a focal point that was interesting for the both of us. We presented the idea to her course director and the external juror, and it was super well received, and that is how I hijacked a graduation project :P ... oh well ..
Farrah recently married a Dutch man, and they have a beautiful relationship, not only together, but with their families as well. And for me, the reality is opposite. Those of you who've read my earlier posts can understand where I am coming from. Those of you who haven't, my life dilemma revolves around the marital choice I want to make as a result of my life experiences as opposed to my migrant parents and the strong bonds they hold with a country and culture they left behind a couple of decades ago. This is what brought us together: the desire of one, and the accomplishment of another. Of course the more ironic part stands the different worlds we come from, and for whom this should've been possible. So, bottom line, we combined this into a single project: (Pakistani)Muslim girls in the West and Interfaith Marriage, and called it:
Error 403: Forbidden Love.
The project is basically an effort to voice inter-faith marriage between Muslim women and non-Muslim men. To voice the hardship of girls in my predicament and showcase the cold attitude of my community - the Pakistani migrant community in Europe.
At the end. We received a really positive response. It was great to have met people who had a similar story to share, or were just glad to see this issue up. Of course, what I would've wanted more would be to have a larger Muslim or Pakistani audience. But seeing the kind of dull response earlier on anyways towards some form of an enlightening dialog, was disappointing. Nevertheless, I also understand why that is. Farrah's thesis Pakistani-Muslim Identity & Migration and the Rules of Interfaith Love puts further light on this. It's a very comprehensive, interesting and gutsy thesis, also since it's always nicer to read brain-tickling material about yourself from your own people as opposed to foreigners. Anyone interested in it can scream now.
The thesis covers the following topics: early migration, creation of Pakistan, Pakistani migration, first and second generation, Islam and the female, Pakistani women in love, interfaith/bi-racial issues, comparison of the issues Muslim women face as opposed to men, and the public view.
It is nothing new to say this, but it's never enough to do so either: a compatible partner is what makes a marriage work, not a single religion. A similar approach towards (whatever)religion, life and people is what will make a marriage last, not just the naive idea that the presence of a single religion will do wonders. Within religion there are so many divisions, people are so much more learned now, both men and women, everyone is so much more opinionated than they ever were, globalization has made it so much easier to coin one's own world view and live by that ... however on earth can you imagine to make it work just because some basic facts match? It has to be a lot deeper than that. It has to be a lot specific than that. We are responsible for the situation we stand in today, this multi-culti-ism that we've decorated around ourselves. Not that it's a horrible place to be at, but now that we're here, this is what we've got to work with, and have got to make it work. I firmly believe in the idea that whatever position we're in right now, at this very moment, is a result of a chain of events that has been happening from the beginning of this world. Sure we've encountered cross-roads, sure we had choices, but the choices made were a result of who we were becoming, what held more worth at that point in time. And here we are today. What are you going to do? Pull a stunt and make everyone believe we're back in the 1st century? That definitely ain't happening darling. But what can happen, is work towards getting the best out of what we have, make the right choice at the crossroad we are at today.
To see more pictures of the project you can click here.