Artists from across the globe are attempting to capture the most pressing human tragedy of our time — the global refugee crisis, that has left over a million people displaced. ‘Getting Across’, an ongoing exhibition features photographs, films and postcards by artists from Belgium, Albenia, Pakistan and India. The 15-day long show, which is curated on the premise that borders are artificial constructs based on arbitrary decisions, attempts to narrate their “gruesome impact” on individuals.
“We need to examine whether we move towards a world that is increasingly globalised economically, but at the same time, compartmentalised ethnically, religiously and politically. Or do we still move forward towards a world of cosmopolitanism, or do we face a world of isolation and nationalism?” says Kanika Kuthiala who has curated the exhibition.
The multi-venue event is being held at Vadehra Art Gallery, India International Centre and Bikaner House simultaneously. Indian filmmaker and artist Amar Kanwar, whose film, “A Season Outside” is being screened at the exhibition, says he remained unaffected by the tales of Partition until he witnessed the anti-Sikh riots of 1985.
“That was the first time that I, in a way, crosssed borders. I relived the Partition that I had only heard of until then,” he says. The 1997 film introduces themes of borders, nationhood and violence, by offering a subjective view of India in the 50 years since Partition.
According to Kuthiala, the exhibition tries to delve into the political ramifications of man-made boundaries and how native and migrant populations respond to such situations.
“Will you, beloved stranger?” by Raqs Media Collective is a visual adaptation of the poetic works of Isareli poet Yehuda Amichai in Hebrew and Mahmoud Darwish in Arabic. The work parses the two bodies of text in English to create a continous stream where a fragment taken from one set of poems of Darwish is followed by another by Amichai.
“When we were working on the project we had to justify the difficult regimes in Israel, regimes such as one we are living in.
“India and Israel are parallel examples of tragedies of post-colonial world in which the presence of borders became occasions for massive tragedies,” says Shuddhabrata Sengupta one of the founders of the collective. The text of the poetry in the film has also been inscribed in the form of perforations on translucent sheets of paper in Hebrew and Arabic. Another exhibit at the show is a collection of photographs titled ‘Postcards from Europe’, clicked by artists from Germany, Spain, Italy and Greece that depict the yearnings of those caught in the crossfire.
The exhibition will run till September 15.