Archives of the colonial and post-colonial memories in the form of poems, photographs, written documents, letters, telegrams, postcards, oral histories, silence, search for the roof, shifting identities, political stance- which my grandparents and parents treasured, shaped my understanding of independence|partition of our country.

 

My practice emerges out of the need to de-colonize these memories. But how does one remove the wounds from the spine of the past? and the stains of time? does body pass on these stains and wounds too? Can memories become a tool to meet past to accept present? Have I been able to accept the present? Have anybody?

 

My works are a series of paper weave, performance, installations, drawings, and video pieces.


I explore paper weaving as a process to weave the warp of memories with the weft of politically charged statements to create a fabric that questions identity and existence. Weaving opens up new possibilities both physically and conceptually. The process generates multiple ways of seeing an image-text, image-image, text-text relationship depending on distance, weaving patterns and layers. I try to contextualize this macro and micro viewing possibilities and establish it as a language to see history, politics and the memories it generates. I see this language of weaving also as a metaphor to speak for the forgotten and lost narratives.

 

The identity of the paper plays a significant role in my works. Some times it’s a real object for example an original archival letter, map, photograph and some times it plays a character through imitating a real object. Both ways the paper carries memory-information-history of partition-migration-division and it becomes my protagonist to narrate the story of past/memories and present/physicality.


I find a resonance between my body and the paper I use, I consider both as memory collectors. In the paper, I weave the warp and weft to bring in different shades and layers to the narration and in performance, my body weaves together memory-space-time-response physically & conceptually.

 

The site(s) I engage with for performance also bear a sense of partition-migration-division within. My body responds to certain situation the site has been through or triggers. I consider my sites also as a body, and the performance derives when both bodies collide in response to the presence of each other. I see my own body as a site for exploring the fragility and strength of the human condition under duress of conflict within contemporary society.

 

My installation pieces are an extension of my performative practice. I create interactive installation pieces to engage viewers as performers.

The dairy drawings series are dedicated to each performance I produce. I engage drawing as a process either to initiate a dialogue between my body and the site before the performance or as a memory of what remains post-performance.

I look at the body as a memory collector.

Living memories

Passed on memories  

Created memories

Arpita Akhanda
Santiniketan