This is an ongoing site-specific, research-based art project that interrogates the role of public monuments in the formation of collective memory. The first phase of this project, which is presented here, was conducted in South Asia at monuments in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India, in the wake of the Partitions of 1947 and 1971. The primary sites of my research are the Jallianwallan Bagh memorial in Punjab, India; the Minar-e-Pakistan memorial, in Lahore, Pakistan; and the Shaheed Minar, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In addition, certain historical objects from these years have also been included in this project as objects of memory.
These relational sites of memory are architectural palimpsests where memories of multiple events have sedimented over time. This project investigates how collective memories of the partitions of 1947 and 1971 are made legible or erased through these monuments, and if these monuments can be triangulated to function as a “memory triad” that connects as well as exceeds their individual historical contexts.
Latex and silicone casts of sections of the monuments such as stairs, walls, doors, niches, and ornaments, capture details and textures of intimate spaces within the larger architecture. The skin-like materials make the “body” of the monument accessible in a corporeal manner. I think of these casts as the “skin” of the monuments which reveal every mark, stain, and blemish that has accumulated on its surfaces since it was constructed. Casts of the Soap Factory are also included in this installation to localize this work here in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The individual panels are not didactically identified with a particular monument since they are now dislodged from their original geographical context. This installation attempts a metaphoric triangulation of the three sites of memory by juxtaposing the corporeal remains of these monuments, and bridging the geographical and political disconnect between these monuments and the countries in which they exist.