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Pale Sentinels: Indo-Pak Exhibition At New York

In the wake of the Indo-Pak conflict which was the result of the British Raj’s new motto “Divide and rule”, so many lives and friendships were destroyed, some more silently than others. While it happened years ago, it resonates within us even now. And if there is anything that can overcome the sheer hostility and hatred between the two nations and by extension between men of different faiths, it is art. Art has made people break rigid barriers, and you know the most profound barriers are seldom geographical. Yet, there is art bringing people together like it always has, reducing them to the bare minimum – artists. Pale Sentinels: Metaphors For Dialogues was an Exhibition held at the Aicon Gallery in New York. Amongst other things, it has opened dialogues regarding notions of redressal.

The exhibition has eight artists from Indian and Pakistan working together
The exhibition has eight artists from Indian and Pakistan working together

Image Credit: aicongallery.com

The works that are on display are by eight renowned and prominent artists from Pakistan and India. The title has been derived from a poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, father of Salima Hasmi, curator – “zindaan ke aik subh”(A prison morning). We know how strongly we have held on to culture and for how long. For the past few years exchange of cultural ideas across the borders has been exceedingly difficult. Artists like Waqas Khan, Ghulam Mohammad, Faiza Butt, and Priya ravish Mehra, Shilpa Gupta, Nilima Sheikh have been in some way or the other associated with the terror unleashed at the time of the partition. And this exhibition gives them the opportunity to recount stories/memoirs from a past long lost but never forgotten.

Shilpa Gupta has presented a tangled ball of fabric from Bengal's jamdani sarees
Shilpa Gupta has presented a tangled ball of fabric from Bengal’s jamdani sarees

Image Credit: aicongallery.com

They have all come together in a place like New York, they are all far from home. And this is precisely the aim of the exhibition – to vitiate trivial details like community, religion, race and other factors that segregate one artist from another. They belong to different generations – while the younger ones like Gupta, Butt, Khan, Mohammad addresses issues of atonement, the older represented by Ismail, Sheikh and Mehra are somewhat comprehensive and poised in their approach. Qizilbash’s The black and white graphite portray a sceneries and highways in a buried Pakistan and North India .Waqas Khan’s paintings are very minimalistic while in Mohammad’s work Urdu text forms an important part against the backdrop of a collage of family photographs and he called it “Yaad dasht”. Shilpa Gupta has presented a tangled ball of fabric from Bengal’s jamdani sarees.

An excellent exhibition of art with an endeavor to erase borders and prejudices
An excellent exhibition of art with an endeavor to erase borders and prejudices

Image Credit: aicongallery.com

The exhibition definitely doesn’t endorse the fact that such terrors can be mitigated or even forgotten about through such recounting or revisitation. What it criticises is the colonial enterprise and urges people to look at imperialism from different perspectives. What hands between the Aicon Gallery are two pieces of cloth – a shawl and a silk chador that were exchanged between late Priya Mehra and Karachi based Shehnaz Ismail. Over the following years each worked on the others garment and the result is on display in the Gallery. This is an attempt to somehow restore the shattered historical implications between two of our own countries.

The post Pale Sentinels: Indo-Pak Exhibition At New York appeared first on HotFridayTalks.



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