Sunday, August 18, 2013

Dealing with man-made systems of divisions

Borders in any land scratch the land itself. Mahbubur Rahman’s on view at Mumbai’s Guild as part of a thought-provoking group show works depict this pressure created by man-made systems of divisions that plug the natural flow of human relationships, communication and understanding.

Borders themselves inherently have the quality of unusual movement that politically fluctuate social understanding amongst harmonious communities and pre-existing neighborhoods.

Rahman grew up in an older part of Dhaka that had the most interactive neighborhoods where people of different religions happily resided in its architectural beauty. “In my childhood I used to hang out with my friends from one para (certain area with one society) to another para visiting all the old buildings, amongst which, some were abandoned and some badly maintained. People used to call these abandoned houses ‘enemy properties’. I wondered why they were called ‘enemy properties’...they did not belong to the anti Bangladeshi’s but Bangali Hindu communities before the 1971 war.”

Suffocated by borders, claustrophobia similar to type in operation theatres, creation of borders through barbed fences, visas, immigration and passports the artist creates sculptures out of stainless-steel scissors that depict the dissection and pressure of the spirit of freedom, while constantly protecting oneself and being on guard. Promotesh Das Pulak’s installation of ‘Twins’ in an incubator, created out of the beautiful white shoal flowers, depicts the betrayal of innocence and beauty through rules and laws that destroyed faith and togetherness unblinkingly.

The position of the twins inside the incubator acts as a vulnerable metaphor of sharing food, oxygen and physical attributions. This work alludes to the notion of partition, division and separation in marked territories that once shared similar histories, cultures and identities. ‘Borders, the name of politics’; by Molla Sagar is the story of Bijoy Sircar, a well-known bard of Bengal, who was unable to let go of his affinity towards his land and people. In 1947 – post partitions – he decided to stay behind in East Bengal, which later came to be known as Bangladesh.

Sarkar had to leave this country. While leaving his motherland, he sung on. In the song, is captured the emptiness felt by all the people of this world, leaving their home lands for the unknown.” Sagar recreates this in his video through a performance of Sircar’s ‘Bichchhedi Gaan’ (Songs of Estrangement), which was a plea to remove from our minds and souls the fencing wires of laws and borders.

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