On September 20th 2019, artists from Stand With Kashmir & The Sanctuaries convened a panel and art installation at the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, part of the Smithsonian museums of international and modern art. Highlighting the theme of ‘Resist to Exist’, the installation included collaborative pieces and a new work from British-Kashmiri artist Sumaya Teli & Kashmiri-American artist, Nouf Bazaz.
Through art and artist collaboration, the event shared stories of the Kashmiri struggle against Indian occupation & militarization and for the right to Kashmiri self-determination.
In particular, speakers noted the escalation of human rights abuses since August 5th, when the Indian government abrogated the last remaining thread of Kashmiri autonomy and plunged the region into a complete communication blackout.
The panel explored ideas pertaining to the use of art in amplifying the voices of social movements, and self-representation as an act of resistance.
Kashmiri artists shared the origins of what became an iconic piece of protest art and a common fixture at Stand With Kashmir protests globally. The discussion centered on the power of an image to not only symbolize a movement but also educate and inspire people to action. Non-Kashmiri artists at The Sanctuaries shared how they were moved and inspired upon viewing the photographs and illustrations and how the partnership with Kashmiri artists and communities was integral to their process of art-activism.
In closing, participants paid homage to the repression of Kashmiri artists within Kashmir, who behind the wall of an Indian-imposed communication blackout – are unable to express themselves and share their art with the world.
The main art installation comprised of a gray tweed Pheran, traditionally worn by Kashmiri men, and a red Pheran with gold tilla embroidery, traditionally worn by Kashmiri women, shown standing side by side enveloped together by a cream Pashmina shawl. The arm of the gray Pheran draped over the shoulder of the red Pheran as the scene was framed by seven foot steel gray rods and traversed with wire. We see them reflected resolutely in glass that covers the roots of a tree that is seven hundred years old.
Stay tuned as we release clips of the event and more photos of the installation.
Please contact Stand With Kashmir if you would like to learn more about how you can get involved.