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Monday, November 30, 2020

A Brush with Identity

As many as 50 artists come together to draw upon 70 years of the Constitution.

Written by Surbhi Gupta | February 11, 2020 12:10:30 am
Jamia Millia Islamia, Free Kashmir, CAA protest, BR Ambedkar, Angela Rashid, Aishe Ghosh, JNU president, indian express news One of the works on display

In her digital print Promises of the Constitution, Shivangi Singh sketches Shillong-based activist Angela Rashid, who questions the transformative power of the Constitution. We also find the girl who was penalised in Mumbai for holding the ‘Free Kashmir’ banner. There is JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh, who was physically attacked on campus, and the students of Jamia Millia Islamia, who became the poster girls of the ongoing anti-CAA/NRC protests. Muslim women, who are leading protests in various parts of the country, also find space. Kashmir finds a place with people standing behind barbed wires, holding their laptops sans the internet. Her work is among the many that make up the exhibition “Celebrate, Illuminate, Rejuvenate the Constitution of India at 70”, organised by Sahmat, the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust.

Over 50 artists are showcasing their works at Delhi’s Jawahar Bhawan as part of the exhibition. “We started developing it after the Ayodhya judgement, while events were playing out in Kashmir simultaneously. We wanted to look at the 70 years of the Constitution, but when the protests erupted in December, it widened the scope,” says Delhi-based artist Aban Raza, who has curated the exhibition.

The Preamble to the Constitution is invoked multiple times. While photographer Vijay S Jodha prints the words from the document on an identification form, which has his passport-sized photo and personal details; Rajinder Arora takes the empty pages of the Constitution and mounts them on another that reads: ‘To be Indian is to be human’. The Preamble also finds place in Vivan Sundaram’s Understanding the Preamble, where he borders it with photographs from various protests.

Artists have also fallen back on BR Ambedkar. Sourav Brahmachari, in his work Bhim Power No 1, prints a quote by Ambedkar on constitutional morality. Mahavir Singh Bisht captures a man dressed as Ambedkar, in a blue suit and red tie, holding the Constitution at Shaheen Bagh. While Simar Puneet uses photographs from the protests to create Ambedkar’s portrait. “We have to revisit our founders, and re-establish what they had said,” says Raza. Kashmir finds a voice in Khursheed Ahmad’s mixed-media work, where he returns to the ‘Delhi Agreement, 1952’, that set the tone for the region’s autonomy. Photographs by Sanna Irshad Mattoo show protests in the Valley.

Sameer Kulavoor’s Multiply Against Divisive Politics that had gone viral is also part of the exhibition. Works by prominent artists, such as Arpana Caur’s Leaves, an untitled work by Mithu Sen, and Pushpamala N’s Eugenics, are also on display.

The exhibition is on till February 15 at Jawahar Bhawan, Raisina Road, Delhi

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