The output generated by the Himmat workshops with the women survivors of the Gujarat violence in 2002 has been shown piecemeal at venues across the country, in response to invitations from organisations or individuals. However, the artworks that resulted from the collaboration between Vasudha Thozur, Tahera Pathan, Rabia Shaikh, Taslim Qureshi, Farzana Shaikh, Rehana Shaikh and Shah Jehan Shaikh have not been exhibited in their entirety. This grant enables Vasudha Thozur to mount exhibitions within the context of her own practice, in mainstream galleries in Mumbai and Delhi. She will also simultaneously build a travelling exhibition module for showing the artworks at multiple other venues across the country at a later stage.
This project originally involved working with six adolescent girls who lost several members of their families in the carnage at Naroda Patiya, Ahmedabad, on February 28, 2002. The project examined the role that art practices play in de trauma such as that which gripped Gujarat that year. It addressed a range of issues—from personal loss and displacement to the possibility of mobilisation and economic revival through the use of the visual language. Further, the recording of the process through writing, painting and the digital media served as a context-specific resource and an archive against forgetting. A residency at Khoj, New Delhi, in 2006, supported the compilation of the output, and the editing of six pieces of video footage shot by the girls. This helped Vasudha to put together some of the works as a trial exhibit at Khoj, and look at ways of presenting process-based artworks through an experiential rather than a documentary perspective. Vasudha explains: “The idea of working with display as a narrative mode was for me a new one, and opened up further areas of thought. What had hitherto functioned actively within the community as a locus for mobilization and creative process was now transformed into artwork and archival material that testified to this process.” Subsequent to this exhibition at Khoj, some of the artworks travelled around the Vatva area, where the community is located.
“With much of the field work completed, there still remained something that was unexpressed—which was my own journey through unfamiliar region,” says Vasudha. Keeping this in mind, this grant helps Vasudha to finish her own artworks that were inspired by the collaborative process. These include the printing and framing of six photo essays of 250 photographs each (including 'Gandhi Ashram to Faizal Park' and ‘Mahakali versus Megacity'); the printing, digital composition and framing of two full length paintings; and the production of diaries and documentation books.
“While presenting the project, the ethics of representation have been uppermost in my mind. How does one speak the truth through images? Is it possible to detect falsehood? Is it possible for the image to speak about issues in a manner that does not feed upon the dark drama of horror, therefore impelling its creation?” Vasudha asks. It is hoped that some of these questions will be addressed through the process of exhibiting her artworks alongside that of the girls. Simultaneous to preparing for the exhibition, Vasudha will begin fabricating the travelling module and make plans for showing the exhibition beyond the two gallery shows planned during the grant period.
This description is part of the institutional records created by IFA at the onset of the grant. The project may have changed in due course as reflected in the deliverables from the Grantee.
Grant No : 2008-0-023
Grantee Name : Vasudha Thozhur
Programme : Special Grants
Grant Status : Completed
Start Date : 31-03-2009
End Date : 30-09-2010
Duration : One year Seven months (Eight months extension)
Grant Amount : 500,000
Geographical Area of Work : Delhi, Maharashtra
Disciplinary Field of Work : Public Art