Delhi-based artist, Veer Munshi, for the past three years, has been making frequent trips to Kashmir, a home he left over two decades ago. But, as an artist, he wants to connect and engage with local craftsmen and what better than papiermache. And, using this craft for his new installation comes at the right time when trouble in the Kashmir valley has escalated but his work responds to the conflict in a humane way. In a series of caskets, fake bones are placed, with the delicate craft of papiermache hiding all traces of identity, if any at all. The idea, Veer says, is to represent how humanity is universal and no form of conflict can replace this human attribute.
Veer’s work is part of an ongoing exhibition titled ‘Dissensus’ in which six artists responded to conflict in their medium of choice. Presented by Latitude 28, the show has brought together works of young and contemporary Indian and international artists. Apart from Veer, the show, which is displayed at Bikaner House, features works from Priyanka D’Souza, a young MSU Baroda trained artist, Australia-based artist Khadim Ali, Nepali artist Hit Man Gurung, Iranian artist NedaTavallaee and artist Waseem Ahmed.
On a giant mixed-media work, several photographs of devastation that enveloped Nepal after April 2015 earthquake, comes alive. While the haunting, monochromatic pictures are scattered across the canvas, in the forefront isa man with layers of bandage covered every inch of his face. He is shown till waist up and holds a coloured photograph of what one could image Nepal looked before destruction. This interesting juxtaposition makes this work the centerpiece of this exhibition which is on till July 16.
This work, titled, “We are in war without enemies…I”from the series ‘This is My Home, My Land and My Country…’, Hit Man says is dedicated to the earthquake survivors who lost their home and beloved ones in 2015.
“Our government raised $4.1 billion in relief and rebuilding funds. It has been more than a year since the earthquake and still thousands of families are living in poor conditions and temporary shelters. The process of reconstruction and resettlement by the government has been slow and leisurely,” he says.
“Additionally, the climatic condition has worsened the situation. Hundreds of people have died in the cold, floods and landslides as they lack a safe place to stay,” he adds.
NedaTavallaee’s work is inspired from a recent event when Iranian models were arrested for posting pictures without headscarves on the social media. “As a female Persian artist based in Iran, my work focuses on the situation we face as women and as a people. There has always been a sense of mystery about Women in the Middle East perhaps because of the culture that has always required us to hide our bodies, emotions and thoughts or the taboos forced upon us through time.”
“Behind this body of work is the lack of heroes in our society. Coming from an ancient culture abundant with stories of such men, it is ironic that in this day and age we have none of the kind. The work was inspired by some arrests that took place a while back in Iran that were to my knowledge unjust. I decided to use pages of the Shahnameh, a book abundant with tales of heroism and patriots as the background in contrast with the image of the damsel in distress, symbolic of Hawa (Eve in Islam) who has to solve all her problems by herself and seek for justice alone,” she said.