It has been said that the world is defined by contrasts. How can you describe what is ‘good’, if you don’t compare it to what is ‘bad’? When looked at in this light, the distinction is starker. Similarly, there is an age-old internal battle between what we HAVE to do, versus what we WANT to do. The artist, Jamil Addas, captures these contrasts in his work entitled; ‘You 2’. Jamil chose to name his work as such, in order to portray the emphasis on the self. This is a battle that is waged inside of each person, a battle that transcends geographic boarders, culture, or race. Furthermore, the artist wants to leave the work to the interpretation of the audience.
‘You 2’ is an integrated project composed of four photos, each two forming a couple that seek to depict conformity versus freedom. In the first photo, a young girl is standing in the midst of a male dominated market place. The contrast here is between the child and the environment. The question is not merely why is the child there, the audience must look deeper and ask themselves what need drove the girl to immerse herself in a grown-up world? It is not a matter of free will, we are all bound by social customs and norms that handcuff us to a particular way of being. We must conform or risk being shunned. In other words, we have to do what we have to do to survive. We become so accustomed to our cage that we are deluded from feeling the feelings we should be feeling. Darwin’s survival of the fittest has evolved into survival of the most readily able to conform. We must willingly swallow the key to our chains. To decrease our cognitive dissonance we convince ourselves that what we need is what we want, and so we are conditioned to not question, but to accept. A market is by definition a center of commerce, a place of business. It is symbolic of how man is but a cog in the corporate machine and how “we the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much for so long, with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.” (Mother Teresa)
This is a dark reality indeed, and the darkness is conveyed through the tonality of this photo. The opposing photo portrays the sweet taste of freedom. The colors exuberate from the photo and the positive energy released is contagious as our souls converge with the spirit of the woman suspended in mid air. The natural environment of Madrid versus a gloomy market in Aleppo.
The next photo symbolizes the aforementioned cage. In the first photo the market is a vague representation of ‘work’, in this shot the photographer presents the audience with a more ‘on the ground’ shot. Butchery, a more precise kind of business, and a butcher, a more specific kind of prisoner. The body language of the butcher communicates the entire message of this piece. Head slinging downwards, the tensed posture of a man accustomed to the smell of blood, and hands acquainted with a chopping routine. Again, the question is not whether the man wants to be where he is, but whether this man has a choice? His survival may depend on the death of these hanged sheep. One may even wonder what this poor man counts when he cant sleep. The next photo is surely a sight for now sore eyes, a man feeding a flock of pigeons. There is no question that the man is doing exactly what he wants to be doing. The happiness he is feeling is radiating from his face, his eyes are not looking downwards, concerned that he may not have enough bird feed, but at the beautiful flock, the very symbol of freedom. The man from Aleppo, versus the man from Kathmandu.
Many people define happiness as discovering what they love to do, and pursuing it with all their energy. Sadly, concepts such as love and compassion, what should be the foundations of a society, perhaps only exist in one’s imagination. In reality, happiness is defined as doing what you have to do to endure in society, and love and compassion are translated by society to ‘making sure you are doing what you have to be doing.’