Seeds are Being Sown

Sept - Oct 2020

Seeds are Being Sown
Seeds are Being Sown
Allies for the Uncertain Futures part 3

Amitesh Grover, Anna Ehrenstein, Arshi Irshad Ahmadzai, Aqui Thami, Baaraan Ijlal, Falani, Khushbu Patel, N*A*I*L*S hacks facts fictions, Parmita Mukherjee, Pêdra Costa, Rupali Patil, Tehmeena Firdos; with texts by Sabika Abbas Naqvi, Sabina Yasmin Rahman

As part of Prameya Art Foundation's Art Scribes Award

View the exhibition online: www.shrineempiregallery.com/roomexhibition/praf-presents-seeds-are-being-sown/

Curatorial Note
All four of my grandparents were forced to flee their homes in Sindh, travelling by sea to Bombay during the partition of the sub-continent. They spent their formative years struggling to find livelihood and belonging in resettlement camps outside the city, finding scant time for healing amongst the pressures of survival. The traumas of their loss, robbed of complexity, have been passed down to us over the generations in remarks and family whispers. These colonial fault lines, further entrenched by opportunist political actors, have hardened into the walls that help build upper-caste majoritarianism today. 

Cameroonian philosopher Achille Mbembe theorises the global move towards hardening of cultural divisions through processes of “emptying vessels,” “drilling,” and “expelling organic matter,” writing, “the erection of the vertical in a privileged position is one of the concrete traces of brutalism, whether it is exercised on bodies or on materials.” This process of depletion creates isolation; one that might allow for a rational understanding of otherness, but leaves little room for a corporeal breakdown of its affect. How, then, do we create experiences of deep syncretism? Perhaps we can look to the ‘in-between’ space, built on the articulation of cultural differences that act as "necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic". Amongst communal acts of eating, praying, sharing fears, and dreaming equitable futures, I have experienced glimpses of what healing looks like. It is within these historically contoured terrains, questioning body and belonging, faith and free-will, that this exhibition is seeded. 

We stand witness today, to the "deployment of force without reserve" in the concretisation of divisions through registers of citizenship and domicile law. This act is the acceleration of an on-going geo-political marginalisation whose nuances are often invisibilized by mainstream media reportage. Aqui Thami’s archive from Gorkhaland reminds us of this history, holding a particular specificity of the land, while simultaneously carrying evidence of the commonality of state repression through communication blackouts, unlawful arrests, and land occupation. Tehmeena Firdos’ small-scale sculptures speak loudly about the emotional anxieties present amongst those who are closest to violence, but also carry important markers of direction ahead such as Dr. Ambedkar’s emblematic pointing finger. Other formations of works foreground the tense relationship between the desire for audibility and dangers of voicing dissent, invoking - through absence - close encounters with punitive systems. Demanding agency, the artists around you take several leaps forward, their works and voices performing 'acts of citizenship', claiming corporeal, public, epistemological, algorithmic spaces of imagining the future. Pedra Costa, processing rooted knowledges through the orifices of the body, holds these desires together saying, “we are always collective, never individual.” Even in plurivocal collectivity this gathering is not exhaustive or complete, but better understood in the full complexity of intersections brought together by the curatorial series ‘Allies for the Uncertain Futures’. This series, of which this forms the third part, explores the possibilities of co-visioning futures through the philosophy of non-duality. The assemblage of practices seen here further develop this collective action, in reflection, collectivity, hybridity, infiltration, multiplicity, offering incipient antidotes to rigidities cemented by the powers of our times. The fight for self-determination is a long-lived one; we continue to walk and make space for more to walk alongside, to ask those left behind to lead. As Sabika Abbas Naqvi writes, “hope is labour”, in which we sow seed whose fruit we may never see.