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Dramatic installation about sexual violence


SilenceSilence, the dictionary says, is a state of complete absence of sound entailing, as it does, terms like ‘deafening silence’ and ‘heavy silence’ oxymoronic.

However, artist Amar Kanwar’s dramatic video installation, “The Lightning Testimonies”, presently on display at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art turns upside down such conventions.

The eight-channel installation, collectively project a non-linear narrative of sexual violence against women during times of conflict, by voicing several testimonies cutting across space and time, through videos, sounds and sometimes, through their absence.

The stories of ‘Veeranganas’, a glorified title used to describe women who faced sexual violence during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, and the tales of women who faced sexual violence during the 1947 partition and 1984 riots leak
into each other, creating a singular narrative of power, sexuality and resistance out of multiplicity.

“The idea was to juxtapose and see the variance; presenting fragments in varied ways who would ultimately come together giving rise to a sense of completion,” says Kanwar, justifying the non-linearity of the project.

Violence, Kanwar explains, has been “normalised in our lives through its overwhelming presence. And while researching for this project I was surprised to find that there are positions in favour of violence.”

This led Kanwar to talk to the perpetrators of violence whose response, in most of the cases, was a chilling concoction of “guilt, reflection and justification”. ┬áSome justified by terming their act as “temporary bout of insanity”.

These explanations, however, do not hold water, says Kanwar, a message that he tried to put across by creating a complex, layered structure in his installation.

Kanwar’s installation is part of the ongoing exhibtion “Is it what you think?” curated by Roobina Karode scheduled till
September 20.

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