Lahore Bus series


I was in Lahore, Pakistan in February 2006 at the time of the riots that erupted in response to the publication of the derogatory cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in a Danish newspaper. This was an emotional time in the Islamic world & in Pakistan. The city was burning. I was on the streets with my camera capturing the myriad scenes.

Each picture frame of the  Lahore “bus” series tells a story of time caught in space and the moment– private yet public: The “burqa” clad woman with her baby on a motor bike…The women packed in the hand-painted, crowded public transport and the men holding on precariously to the bus (a familiar sight in most of the “developing” world) engaged with each other and still able to smile and laugh reminded me of the poem of Leopold Sedar Senghor titled “Prayer to Masks.”

Masks! Oh Masks!
Black mask, red mask, you black and white masks,
Rectangular masks through whom the spirit breathes,
I greet you in silence!
And you too, my pantherheaded ancestor.
You guard this place, that is closed to any feminine laughter, to any mortal smile.
You purify the air of eternity, here where I breathe the air of my fathers.
Masks of maskless faces, free from dimples and wrinkles,
You have composed this image, this my face that bends over the altar of white paper.
In the name of your image, listen to me!

-From Leopold Sédar Senghor’s “Prayer to Masks”