Massacres and Home: An Art Installation at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale — by Ahmed Muzamil

Feb 6, 2019

Ahmed Muzamil presents an introduction to his work that is currently on exhibit at the ongoing Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2018). The young artist has prepared an installation to commemorate the anniversary of the Gawkadal Massacre where more than 50 people were shot by Indian soldiers during a peaceful protest. The installation involves a series of photographs in light boxes, recorded testimonies from survivors and witnesses played back in a loop and a 100kg bag of ash placed in a specific manner to create a space where death, mourning and remembrance are contemplated in what can be considered a “funerary chamber,” considering the manner in which the installation has been set up. An artist statement for the work along with a video of the installation, some visuals and sound recordings are provided here courtesy of the artist.

Artist Statement

 

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.

Installation Video

From Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018

Installation Photos

(from Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018)

Photographs Featured in the Work

(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.

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About the Contributor

Ahmed Muzamil Aftab Rah is student of fine arts specializing in photography and art installation at Kashmir University. His prime focus has been to capture daily life in Kashmir from the prism of geopolitics. He has investigated the on-going Kashmir conflict through a historical perspective, focusing on the traumatic experiences that have been transferred from generation to generation. The impact of such trauma is manifest in daily life in Kashmir and his art installations and photography engage with such manifestations.

Knowledge is like Teher.
A handful of cooked rice
a humble offering
to ward off the grief
from an entire century.
Whosoever receives Teher
does so with blessings
and well wishes.
Today the T in Teher
is the T in Taaleem
just as the K in Kashmir
is the K in your name.
From Teōtīhuacān to Tral
we make a humble offering.

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