Sheba Chhachhi’s lens-based works investigate contemporary questions about gender, the body, the city, cultural memory and eco-philosophy. An activist/photographer in the women’s movement in the 1980s, Chhachhi moved on to create intimate, sensorial encounters through large multimedia installations. Her work interweaves the mythic and the social, pre-modern thought and contemporary concerns, bringing the contemplative into the political. She has exhibited widely including numerous international biennales; her works are held in significant public and private collections, including Tate Modern, UK, BosePacia, New York, Singapore Art Museum, Kiran Nadar Museum, Devi Art Foundation and National Gallery of Modern Art, India. Chhachhi speaks, writes and teaches in both institutional and non -formal contexts. She lives and works in New Delhi.
Sonia Jabbar is a writer, photographer, filmmaker and activist who has been associated with a number of people’s movements since 1990. Jabbar has worked in Kashmir since 1995, publishing articles and essays in major national dailies and numerous anthologies. Her moving image works include Autumn’s Final Country (2003) and a two-channel video installation ‘Granted Under Fear’ (2009). Sonia Jabbar received the WISCOMP (Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace) Scholar of Peace, 2000, and was a Bellagio Scholar in the summer of 2008. She has been working on a non-fiction book on Kashmir, and currently lives and works on a tea estate in north Bengal.
Intervening in media representations of armed conflict, dominated by groups of men with guns, this installation invites the viewer to enter the private spaces of war, to hear voices normally drowned out by the clamor of contesting stereotypes— the voices of ordinary women of Kashmir. Humble materials— earth, bricks and rice evoke the domestic, within a configuration that draws on the contemplative formalism of the Mughal gardens in Kashmir. Somewhat subversively, rusted iron ‘books’ are placed within a series of rihals which are book holders, traditionally used for the holy books of Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism. Each book is placed on a low platform, eliciting intimate contact with a black and white photograph and a testimony. These testimonies, gathered over a period of six years, 1995 onwards, break out of the homogenizing, highly polarized representation of ‘Muslims’ versus ‘Hindus’, ‘Indians’ versus ‘Pakistanis’, ‘us’ versus ‘them’. Women from a wide range of communities and subject positions bear witness. Brought together despite different religions, ethnicities and experiences of the Kashmir conflict by an unambiguous rejection of violence, these are voices of strength, reason, and compassion.