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  • Writer's picturePritika Chowdhry

What is an Anti-Memorial?

Updated: Feb 16, 2022

An anti-memorial goes against the grain of a traditional memorial or monument, in an intentional manner.

James E. Young

James E. Young, an eminent scholar has provided this insightful definition - "Anti-memorials aim not to console but to provoke, not to remain fixed but to change, not to be everlasting but to disappear, not to be ignored by passers-by but to demand interaction, not to remain pristine but invite their own violation, and not to accept graciously the burden of memory but to drop it at the public's feet."

When a memory is unbearable, how do you memorialize it?

Such as the 300,000 (or more) women that were abducted and raped in the Partition of India in 1947.

Or the 200,000 - 400,000 women that were raped during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.

Or, more than one million Afghanis, Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenians, and Pakistanis that have been killed in America's War on Terror.

Traditional monuments

The monuments that have been created in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh mourn the people who perished in the partition riots in 1947 and the Liberation War in 1971, but none mention the hundreds of thousands of women that were raped during these traumatic events. Those women still live in the silence of the monuments. These are the unbearable memories that India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh still carry.

Similarly, the 9/11 memorial in New York, eulogizes the 2,983 American lives that were lost when the Twin Towers were attacked on 9/1//2001, but no mention is made of the millions of middle eastern lives that have been lost as a direct result of 9/11.

Need for anti-memorials

This elision, or erasure, these unbearable memories is what my art projects wish to lay bare.

I make anti-memorials that flips the idea of traditional memorialization and nationalist

monuments on its head.

My anti-memorials are quietly provocative, temporary, incorporate visceral materials, and create experiential environments in which viewers can be vulnerable with unbearable and difficult memories with empathy.

In short, I seek to make “good trouble” with my artwork.


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