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Art paints miseries of Kashmiris affected by strife

Art paints miseries of Kashmiris affected by strife
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Kochi: The misery of thousands of people from two communities, caught in the ethnic strife in Kashmir three decades ago, has found portrayal at the Kochi Muziris Biennale in this coastal city.
A Srinagar Biennale pavilion is part of the ongoing Kochi-Muziris Biennale here, the subcontinent’s biggest art festival of its kind.
It is one of the infra-projects, a significant part of this edition’s curator Anita Dube’s curatorial vision, a KMB press release said.
This segment, curated by artist Veer Munshi, turns the focus to the pain and sorrow of the two communities which were forced to flee their land and settle elsewhere as refugees and features 14 artists from both the religious faiths that have been affected by the conflict that flared up in 1989, it said.
The central work of the project features a structure shaped like a Sufi dargah.
Srinagar-born Munshi said the nurturing structure borrows elements from Kashmiri architecture, reinforced by secular values.
“Sufi shrines are considered a common place where all could go and pray,” Munshi is quoted as saying in the release.
The idea is to showcase how spaces like these got marginalised, points out Delhi-residing Munshi, whose work too has been displayed in the segment.
The inside of the shrine features several baby coffins with papier-mache bones and skulls. The installation is surrounded by works of other artists.
The art comes in the form of performances, paintings, photographs, papier-mache works and new media mix.
Besides Munshi, the participating artists are AltafQadri, EhtishamAzhar, GargiRaina, HinaAarif, InderSalim, KhytulAbyad, Maumoon Ahmad, MujtabaRizvi, NeerajBakshi, RajendarTiku, SannaIrshadMattoo, Sauqib Bhatt and Showkat Nanda.
Overall, the Srinagar Biennale here documents the migration and alienation faced by the Kashmiris.
“Most Kashmiri artists have been in and out of the Valley since the 1990s,” notes Munshi, 63.
“While some, belonging to the minority Hindu community, fled as part of a mass exodus, the others mostly Muslims stayed back. Both have suffered in these shrinking cultural spaces,” he said.
The artist further explains that the only recourse is to give life and return love to the region; embrace it and become strong.
“It is only in this way we can realise our potential as a community and blossom in ways that would be more beautiful and fruitful than one could have ever imagined,” adds Munshi, an alumnus of MS University in Baroda.
Artist Gargi’s work has crows as messengers, while Sauqib’s work talks of how violence and conflict become a memory and, inversely, memory becomes trauma.
On the other hand, MujtabaRizvi juxtaposes his own images with those who have disappeared in Kashmir.
Sanna has a video that captures a gravedigger sharing his trauma, while Neerajs minimalist drawings, titled ‘Premonitions’ are a stark representation of happenings in the Valley. (PTI)

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