SOLO

exhibition

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Chowdhry

Pritika

UNITED STATES

Yellow and Black Photography Quote (1).p

“And this is why I make this work. It is that small crack, covered over by silence.”

"BROKEN COLUMN: THE MONUMENTS OF FORGETTING"

The Sites Of Memory

This is an ongoing site-specific, research-based art project that interrogates the role of public monuments in the formation of collective memory. The primary sites of my research are the Jallianwallan Bagh memorial in Punjab, India; the Minar-e-Pakistan memorial, in Lahore, Pakistan; and the Martyred Intellectuals monument in Rayer Bazar, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Latex cast of a section of the Minar-e-Pakistan, in Lahore, Pakistan.

These sites of memory or lieux de memoire in Pierre Nora’s words are rich with collective memories of the Partitions of 1947 and 1971. In addition, certain historical objects from these countries have also been included in this project as objects of memory. (Nora, 1989)


Casts of sections of the Soap Factory in Minneapolis, are also subversively included in this installation to localize this work here in the US. (This project was exhibited as a whole, in the Soap Factory in 2014, and the project greatly benefitted from their support).

Broken Column

Installation

$20,000

Installation view of the Broken Column work at the Soap Factory, in Minneapolis.

COUNTER-MEMORY


This project investigates how collective memories of the partitions of 1947 and 1971 are made legible or erased through these monuments. These relational sites of memory are architectural palimpsests where memories of multiple events have sedimented over time. These national monuments are complicit in creating a narrative that aggrandizes the nation.

“The skin-like materials make the “body” of the monument accessible in a corporeal manner.”

As significant as these monuments are to the collective memories of the two partitions and the three nations, they fail to acknowledge or memorialize the trauma that the women of the three countries endured during these violent events. The elision of this trauma forms the counter-memory that hangs heavy in these monuments.


Michel Foucault coined the term, “Counter-Memory” to describe a modality of history that opposes history as knowledge or history as truth. For Foucault, counter-memory was an act of resistance in which one critically examines history and excavates the narratives that have been subjugated. (Foucault, 1977)

James E Young describes an anti-memorial as, “Anti-memorials aim not to console but to provoke, not to remain fixed but to change, not to be everlasting but to disappear, not to be ignored by passers-by but to demand interaction, not to remain pristine but to invite their own violation and not to accept graciously the burden of memory but to drop it at the public’s feet.” (Germany’s Memorial Question: Memory, CounterMemory, and the End of the Monument, Fall 1997)

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THE MEMORY TRIAD


The monuments are completely separate from each other geographically and politically, and indeed function in contradiction to each other as they each imprint the nationalistic version of collective memory of each nation. However, these latex panels are now dislodged from their original geographical and architectural context. An installation comprising of all these panels in one location is then able to create a metaphoric triangulation of the counter-memories of these three sites of memory.

Latex cast of a section of the Martyred Intellectuals Monument, in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

“In this visceral and abject form, these casts are able to allude to the counter-memories that are elided from these monuments and are thus able to function as an anti-memorial.”

Silicone cast of a section of the Minar-e-Pakistan, in Lahore, Pakistan.

Hence, this anti-memorial is able to function as a “memory triad” despite the geographical and political disconnect between these monuments and the conflicting nationalist politics of the countries in which they exist. This triangulation was never the original intent of these monuments. In their anti-monumentalism, this work connects as well as exceeds each individual monument’s historical context.

Prize Ribbon (1)

Prize Ribbon (1)

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Latex cast of a section of the Martyred Intellectuals Monument, in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

ATTIA HOSSAIN’S SUNLIGHT ON A BROKEN COLUMN


The title of this project, “Broken Column,” is an intertextual reference to Attia Hossain’s novel, “Sunlight on a Broken Column.” The novel is a beautiful work about the coming of age of a young Muslim girl in the turbulent times of the Partition in Lucknow, in India. The author was also a Muslim woman, and I felt it offered a particularly poignant intertextual reference for my project which is about the counter-memory of what Hindu and Muslim women endured in the Partition.