The Stains Are Forever
Abid’s use of symbols vacillates between personal afflictions and national crises. The pacifier, which has been a part of her artistic lexicon for much of her career, is a representation of the innocence of victims of disaster or violence. On its own, without a young mouth to grasp it, the pacifier serves as a haunting reminder of loss and unspeakable crimes committed against the most vulnerable among us.
On December 16, 2014, six armed militants—all foreign nationals—entered a public school in Peshawar, Pakistan, and opened fire, killing 141 people and injuring 114. Among the deaths were 132 children, aged between 8 and 18. Khaula Bibi, six years old and enjoying her very first day at school, was the sole female pupil to die in the attack.
The Peshawar school massacre is regarded among the most violent occurrences in Pakistani history. It provoked a national discussion on the government’s policy of harboring refugees from Afghanistan and catalyzed governmental reforms, including an effort to rehabilitate the country’s displaced populations, which in 2017 numbered nearly 2 million.