The development of this exhibition in these tumultuous times is founded on multiple intersecting motivations, primary amongst them is the urge to collectively make sense of the sprouting of femme and queer led resistances blooming synchronously over the last two years, across the world. India, too, witnessed a sustained period of protest starting December 2019 in response to changes in citizenship laws, seeing women-led protests emerge across the country. These changing laws are a significant move forward in the governing regime’s desire for a hindu-nationalist state, fervently targeting minorities and dissenting voices. In reflecting, it has been important to us that we acknowledge the long lineages in which these movements sit, and to honour those who have fought before us. Artists in this formation have created moments of bearing witness and holding space for those who have faced the greatest losses in these struggles for autonomy and self-determination. Through multiple modes of commemoration, from direct representation to senatorial experience, we consider the plural possibilities of healing a fissured world.
Tehmeena Firdos, series of six sculptures, dental plaster, watercolour on acrylic, found images, wire, 2020.
Acts of Audibility
India’s recent moments of resistance have generated a powerful charge rooted in organic syncretism. Gathering impetus from the model of a highway occupation in the capital, almost a hundred such sites germinated across the length and breadth of the country. These 24/7 sit-in baghs, like many sites of resistance across the world, were as much about the claim to public space, as the right for all voices to be heard. Voice is pertinent to politics—perhaps more than any other political concept— because “audibility” is the central concern of politics: which voices get heard and which not. (4) Continuing our process of collective understanding, artists examine the nuances of voice, the historic landscapes that seek to modulate it, negotiations of speaking in institutional spaces, and the adverse repercussions of being heard. Present - in absence - are the close encounters with state systems determined to stifle voices of dissent through all means possible. (4) Fred Evans. “Public Art and the Fragility of Democracy: An Essay in Political Aesthetics”, [Columbia University Press, 2019], pp 24.
Claims on Futurity
The series “Allies for the Uncertain Futures”, of which this is the third part, holds at its core a dynamic inquiry into the possibilities of co-visioning futures. Not all bodies have had the right to dream their futures, with this right historically reserved for white male ‘hero’ figures, proclaiming as individuals the best course for the masses. Through corporeal assertions artists claim space in civic, representational, epistemological, and algorithmic registers, demanding the right for queer-trans bodies to vision our own futures. These processes also subvert the lone individual, bringing in multiple forms of collectivity to acts of imagining. Seen together the entire assemblage of practices in the exhibition can provide an incipient antidote to the concretization of identity we are seeing in all corners, offering modes of reflectivity, collectivity, hybridity, infiltration, and multiplicity as means of defying rigidity.
Falani, Postcard from Kabul/ Where is my name?, Photographic documentation of public art interventions, 2020
Khushbu Patel, Do you smell the rain, Droplets of my saliva have gently touched the parched soil, Watercolour on paper, 2020