Artist Pritika Chowdhry is bringing stories of India’s partition to the global stage
Her art exhibition, Broken Columns, is made up of latex molds taken from monuments in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh
Artist Pritika Chowdhry has worked on ‘anti-memorials’ for the partition for the past 15 years. Her recent exhibition showcases the monuments set up in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Titled Broken Columns, Chowdhry has taken latex moulds of the Minar-e-Pakistan monument in Pakistan, the Martyred Intellectuals Memorial in Bangladesh and the Jallianwala Bagh in India. Around a dozen exhibits are displayed at a gallery in Chicago, USA.
Latex moulds sandwiched in cheese cloth, “they are like living skin with a fingerprint of the monument,” she explains. “I have captured every last tobacco stain or dirt on that section of the wall. Once detached from the monument, it becomes an object of its own. As the artist and author of this work, I can then inscribe it and tell a different story,” she explains.
After her mother revealed her family’s personal experience during the partition, the Chicago-based artist began creating art that spoke about the suffering they faced. She created anti-memorials or counter monuments that “allude to the memories of the partition that have been suppressed.”
She adds, “There is no official monument to the partition of our country. But I believe, these monuments do double duty — overtly they are about one particular event, but covertly, they memorialise the partition event as well.”
The knowledge of the partition outside of the continent is low, explains Chowdhry and is important to put the event in context for the Americans. “Most of them are surprised by it and it (my exhibitions) is more of a learning experience for them,” she adds.
The artist expounds, “A lot of the Indians who come to the exhibition don’t like it. They feel obligated to show our home country in a good light while in India, we are more ready to be self critical.”