January 21st marks the anniversary of one of the worst massacres in modern Kashmir's history.
The Gawkadal Massacre took place on a day when hundreds of Kashmiris were executed by Indian soldiers during a peaceful protest when they fired upon a crowd marching over a bridge. Many families lost their loved ones during this tragic event and nobody has a complete record of the people who died on that day. Many of the corpses were thrown off the bridge into the river. People who saved themselves that day by running away were witnesses to this massacre and it is through their help that I have come up with this work. Through my work I have tried to bring together every possible detail of that day compiling it into a photo story on the witnesses of the massacre.
I have recorded the statements of the witnesses and their experience of that horrific day.
Through this art project, I am trying to illustrate the trauma and tragedy brought upon the people of Kashmir after the massacre, which became a catalyst to the type of violence that Kashmiris have seen since.
I have collected about 100 kilograms of ashes to make a big ash cube. The ashes used in my work represent the death of Kashmiris and the trauma inflicted upon their loved ones. It also depicts the collective memory as it has become part of the collective history of Kashmir.
The massacre brought rampage in Kashmir because it marked the beginning of many more protests and riots, and with that many more massacres.
From Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018
Sounds of Grief and Mourning
These sound files that collect testimonies from three witnesses and survivors play in a loop in the installation exhibited at Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018. The audio is muffled to an extent to evoke the vagueness of memory, its preservation and its fading in the struggle between forgetfulness and remembrance, particularly when considering the Gawkadal Massacre. Here, the symbolic is employed to retrieve that which must not be forgotten.