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A Place In Punjab
Punjab, the fertile land of the five doabas, draws both sustenance and identity from its great rivers, that flow down westwards from the Himalayas. This land has an ancient history dating back to the Indus valley sites. It was here also that some of the earliest Central Asian pastoralists settled, establishing what we know of today as the Vedic civilization. Through the centuries, Punjab has been the gateway to the Indian subcontinent—for adventurers, traders and conquerors. It is this ‘border identity’ that defines its image and translates into the character of its people. Punjabi legends and poetry carry the emotive power of life lived intensely between love and war.
The landscapes of the region have undergone dramatic changes in modern times. Forests have been submerged by large dams. Fast-flowing canals, power lines and highways cut through the countryside. The once undulating land filled with Talli, Dhak, Pipal and Kikar trees has been repopulated by Eucalyptus and Poplar, and vast flat fields of paddy, wheat and sugarcane often stretch as far as the eye can see.
Political upheavals of the colonial and post-independence periods have also reshaped its social geography, though the people remain strongly connected to their traditional modes of dressing, eating and fraternizing. From the crowded, festive bazaars of Amritsar during Diwali, to the serene waters of the Satluj mirroring a beautiful white-painted shrine—it’s easy to see that some aspects of life have not changed for centuries. Not since the times of the great Gurus and Peers, who hold such a special place in the hearts of the people.
Some aspects of life have also been torn apart. But through good times and bad, Punjabis remain upbeat about themselves. The parallel realities of the past and the present seem to bring to their everyday existence a special something: a sense of life that is lived in the here and now, of joys and sorrows that are experienced and expressed without reservation. Something that remains open-hearted and generous and laughs in the face of troubles. It is this special something that I have set out to capture through these images - which I hope serve as some sort of a reflection and celebration of the irrepressible Punjabi spirit.
It has been my good fortune to have had the opportunity to conceive and help execute a mural about the land and people of Punjab for the Virasat-e-Khalsa, a multi-media museum and cultural centre in Anandpur Sahib, on which I worked from 2007 to 2010. During this time, I met and collaborated with many inspiring people whose insights and observations contributed substance and shape to my vision. The images in this series owe much more than I can acknowledge in words, to each of them.Abhishek Hazra
Inside the Crystal Goblet the Simians Struggle to Write Their Own Principia
Abhishek Hazra’s work continues his engagement with the social history of science. In this new work, he focuses on the origins of Bengali scientific terminology in the early nineteenth century and looks critically at the politics of translation. The work also tries to contextualize the dynamics of its own consumption: how seemingly self-anthropologizing artworks tickle the liberal sentiments of History’s sovereign authors. And in case you are wondering, let me assure you, dear spirited authenticity enthusiast and lapsed ethnomusicologist, that Apu and Durga indeed eat their fish like Nanook of the North.
(Text by Alok G Sudarshan)Sunoj D
When I get out of the city for a weekend trip (somewhere far from the bustling crowds of people and loud traffic) to a forest, a huge water body or a mountain, I can be in such a place for many hours and think about nothing. I feel free, refreshed and far away from everyday routine and responsibilities. On my return, slowly, all the responsibilities and pending tasks start coming back to my mind.
I do not know what 10 pots of plants at home or the calendar with images of landscapes, or a few shells in a bathroom, or the plastic flower bouquet can do for me. However, there is still a need to have something from nature in my urban domestic environment.
I am interested in this particular human - nature relationship, in which humanity tries to remake nature. I feel that sometimes our relationships with nature is alienated or morphed into a differing newer reality that accepts the artificiality of nature as something natural or real.
I articulate such relationships through natural/artificial, real/imagined visual images in my work.Abir Karmakar
Bed - a piece of furniture on or in which to sleep - a place of sex relations - marital relationship - close association
In May 1994, I travelled to Kolkata for the first time, all alone. Coming from a small town and growing up in a small room, I was quite nervous to face the Big City. While spending the night in a hotel I felt the urge to feel the space and to do so I decided to go to bed naked only to realize the absence presence of the previous occupants.
In May 2010, during summer I made a bed and invited three strangers (to me and to each other) mostly from the same age group to sleep on that bed each on a different night for three consecutive nights. I asked them to sleep naked as they come from a joint-family and never went to bed without clothes as because of the lack of personal space.
I have never been interested in binaries - male/female, private/public, right/wrong, real/friction, but in the area that connects, blurs or overlaps them.