Ahmed My Beloved

The hadra is a ritual, with embodied gatherings and invocations of communion with ancestral spirituality. The term translates from Arabic to mean a Devine presence. It is this presence that Elsadig Janka connects in his series Ahmed My Beloved.

For this photographic work, Janka accompanied pilgrims journeying to Halagat Zikr in Omdurman, Sudan. Weekly he joined the dervishes and assembly of devotees to dance, chant and experience the power of collective spiritual practice. Janka’s work glimpses into one of the largest Sufi communities in the world. Some estimates say that upto 60% of the population’s faith has been influenced by Sufi rituals with millions of Sudanese identifying with this mystical form of Islam.

The photographs are reflective of the Sufi practices that are rooted in movement. Through Janka’s techniques of blur, stop motion and multiple exposure the images capture the embodied practice of spiritual gathering and trance. Janka also focuses on the objects of ritual that are used to adorn the pilgrims’ bodies and illuminate the ritual. The artworks often enmesh the spatial context of the place, the individual subjects and the material artefacts of the experience. His techniques thus amplify the connectedness between location, body and materiality rather than to objectify the sacred.  

This meeting site of Halagat Zikr is also a resting place for ancestors where dhikr or forms of remembrance are conducted.  In that continuity of connection, the series is dedicated to Ahmed, a dear friend that used to join Janka in the weekly sessions. May he rest in power with the ancestors and return to the Hadra. 

Medium : Digital prints on photo rag

The inner circle does not have a door, and the point which is in the center is Truth/ The meaning of Truth is that from which externals and internals are not absent, and it does not tolerate forms. 

Al-Tawasin

Oh Ahmed, in your highlife, remember us at the Hamad al-Nil cemetery in Omdurman, which has been facing the war bombardment since April 2023.

The film we started together is still a manuscript that has not been completed and will never be completed.

In the heights of your surroundings, our first joy was flying to another destination.

I would gamble with Allah with all of me to dices you through another game.

Or you may dice yourself, as usual, through another game.

The Noba drum voiced your heart that not left Hamad Al-Nile courtyard.

The city carpeted by our iron wheels,

I left after your passing in lean years

We debate a lot about the philosophy of Clumsiness, if any.

Is Hadara the clumsiness of the dervish, sir?

Elsadig Janka

0 The Path

The nearness which thou knowest is distance, and the farness which thou knowest is distance: I am the Near and the Far without distance

Muhammad ibn ‘Abdi ‘l-Jabbar al-Niffari: The Mawaqif and Mukhatabat


90 x 60 cm, 2016

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Elsadig Janka

1 Eternity and Perpetuity

A wine in its chalice made of though ancientness, and recently its chalice made of my mind and all of my senses. The universe is drunken of it and visibly ecstatic with people.

abdul ghani al nabulsi


90 x 60 cm, 2016

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Elsadig Janka

2 The Adoration

They said I have gone crazy with love, if only they tasted my insanity. My wound has been stitched up, and my yaa litter has joined my siin to compose the prophets name alphabet. My right hand became my left and my left hand became my right. In my love I can hear the lights, I can see the melodies.

Awad Alkareem Musa


90 x 60 cm, 2016

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Elsadig Janka

3 Magic Carpet

The sun coming up brings clear wine-air. Being sober is not living. Listen to the longing of a stringless harp. Stand watch over this burning.

Quartains of Rumi: unseen rain


90 x 60 cm, 2016

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Elsadig Janka

4 The Spiritual Walk (el isra)

Your secret is in the depths of my consciousness

My heart is the mountain where God manifested Himself

In my death resides true life, and in my life resides my true demise.

Ibn Al-Farid


120 x 80 cm, 2016

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Elsadig Janka

5 The Cloning

My heart has become capable of every form:

It is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks

And a temple for idols and the pilgrim’s Ka‘bah

And the tables of the Torah and the book of the Qur’an.

I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love’s camels take,

That is my religion and my faith.

ines 13-15 from Ghazal 11 in Tarjuman al-ashwaq by Muhyi al-Din ibn al-‘Arabi (1164-1240)


90 x 60 cm, 2016

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Elsadig Janka

6 The Sky

Where is a foot worthy to walk a garden, or an eye that deserves to look at trees?

Show me a man willing to be thrown in the fire.

Quartains of Rumi: unseen rain


90 x 60 cm, 2016

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“Through this series, I sought to amplify the profound connectedness between the spiritual, the human form, and the material artifacts of the Hadra.” – Elsadig Janka.

Elsadig Janka

7 The Revelation

 A sacred celestial body in your elevation

Endowed with   a strange charm and a distant entity

Even when it is near it shines in a captivating wireless lights

Your lightening shines in the very depth of the darkest night

How dare they not recognizing you

The kept trying to compare you with casual beauty

And if they exchange with you true gaze

Or contemplated you with the heart eyes 

They will never equalize you with light nor fire or the shrewdest imagination creations.

90 x 60 cm, 2016

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Elsadig Janka
8 Al Hadra 

120 x 80 cm, 2016

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Elsadig Janka
9 The Friendship

120 x 80 cm, 2016

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Elsadig Janka

10 The Step

“Where” with You has nowhere

And there is nowhere where You are

Illusion with You has no illusion

Can illusion know where You are?

You are the One who gathers every “where”

to nowhere, so where are You?

Hallaj


80 x 120 cm, 2016

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Elsadig Janka
11 The Spectre

90 x 60 cm, 2016

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Elsadig Janka
12 The Dervish

120 x 80 cm, 2016

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Elsadig Janka
13 The Blessing

120 x 80 cm, 2016

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Elsadig Janka
14 Al Samad

90 x 60 cm, 2016

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Borderlands Art is invested in presenting this work now as a way to share Janka’s artistry with the world, especially while many are only seeing the devastation of the recent civil war through the lens of media outlets. We want to show the value of creative practices as a gesture towards beauty and joy amongst the violence and turmoil. Janka and his family have been forced to leave their home in Khartoum, Sudan. He is now living and working in Kampala, Uganda.