Postcards from 47 Indo-Pakistan artists speak on Partition at biennale collateral

ON  03 Apr, 2019

ManishaGera Baswanis parents hail from that part of undivided India which becamePakistan after Partition; so the 52-year-old artiste was raised by listening tostoriesof their home away from home A collateral work of the Delhiiteis being exhibitedparallel to the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, featuring her photographs of works andimages of 47 artists from both sides of the international border.Postcards from Home, running at 1/655, Quiros Street in Fort Kochi, has 25 of its artists from Indiaand the rest 22 from Pakistan. Manisha’s photographs of them are in the artists creative spaces, and have a link with Partition. Each of them reminisce abouttheir lost ‘home’, sharing a remote sense of nostalgia.

Manisha, a practisingpainter based in Gurgaon of the National Capital Territory, began photographingmoments of the art fraternity 16 years ago. Then, in 2015, she embarked on a Pakistanleg of the series, titling it Artist Through the Lens’. It is from these twoprojects running parallel between the two countries that Postcards from Home was born, figuring Indian and Pakistani artists in their studios. Theintention of the project is to intrigue and invite viewers with these visualframes of nostalgia, to re-kindle love, touch a cord and revive the sharedconnection of a common history, says Manisha, also an occasional writer. For the artist-photographer,listening to younger-time experiences of her parents led her to feel that the effortwas to preserve one’s history. Later, each time Manisha crossed the border, somethingtriggered in my heart. That led her to believe that the people on either sidewillforget about the war if the borders are opened. During my interactionswith the artists from Pakistan, I noticed that India was referenced many times says Manisha. It was lovely to see visitors from different age groups andsection of society picking up and browsing through the cards on display eachcarrying and anecdote or memory narrated by an artist. The 47 artists in her worksinclude Salima Hashmi, Satish Gujral, Zarina Hashmi, Anjum Singh, Waseem Ahmed,Muhammad Imran Qureshi, Aisha Khalid, Amar Kanwar, Roohi Ahmed and ZeeshanMuhammad. Postcards from Home had earlier been exhibited at the LahoreBiennale in 2017 andFaiz International Festival at Lahore last year. Recently, Manisha curated anexhibition of octogenarian artist A Ramachandran, her mentor. The ChangingMoods of the Lotus Pond and Insignificant Incarnations was held at Delhi’s VadehraArt Gallery in November 2018. Manisha has also held a solo exhibition atGallery Espace booth at India Art Fair 2018 and earlier, in 2015, at SanatInitiative in Karachi. At Kochi, collaterals are exhibition projects that take place inFort Kochi and Mattancherry at the time of the biennale, which is currentlyrunning its fourth edition. Independent of the main curatorial project, theseworks will be exhibited till March 28.

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