‘Home’. It’s just a word as arbitrary as any other, but it invokes a thousand feelings all at once. When different artists were presented with the word, each response was unique, personal and profound.
The Pind Collective is an art project that brings together 10 artists from India and Pakistan. The project has great resonance today when diplomatic conditions between the two countries are fraught with hostility.
The idea came to co-founder Avani when she visited Pakistan in college and came to realise how similar people on either side of the border really were.
It was interesting because we couldn’t read each other’s scripts but we understood each other’s language perfectly.Avani told The Quint
The word ‘Pind’ evokes ‘home’ whether in Amritsar or Lahore.
Her co-founder Ansh came on board to help curate the project. A young digital film-maker, Ansh deals with the majority of the design aspect, while Avani handles the text.
The artists – six from India and four from Pakistan – are all under 30 and work in different mediums like poetry, dance, acting or painting. Some are professionals while some are still in university.
When we began we didn’t know how big some of the artists we’re working with are. One just wrapped up his first feature film in Pakistan!Ansh, co-founder, The Pind Collective
Here’s a glimpse of some of the pieces:
For Urvi, ‘Home’ is her body. It’s terrifying, strange and often alien, but it’s home. Through her piece, titled ‘Belly Button and Left Elbow Walk Into a Bar’, Urvi tries to feel at home in her own body.
Sarah, in her piece ‘Diary of a Vagabond/Jis Desh Main Ganga Behti Hai’ tells the story of partition through those who lived it. In her artwork, Sarah captures the experiences of Raisa Begum and Sardar Ali who migrated from Delhi to Karachi in 1947.
“For both these people, and for thousands like them, home is located in a distant past, to be thought of fondly but never to be known again,” writes Sarah.
In ‘A Day Stretched Out Like a Bedsheet’, Sthira looks at Delhi through the prism of everyday intricacies of routine, and the stolen moments of rest in the city’s spaces we have made our own.
Sunil Shanker’s Urdu rendition of Franz Kafka’s ‘A Report to an Academy’ – ‘Kafka’s Monkey’ – deals with the themes of isolation, cruelty and loss. A synopsis of the story reads:
Wounded and captured by an expedition, an ape finds himself aboard a boat headed for Europe. He has been violently captured from his forest home and realizes that escape – regaining the animal freedom he enjoyed – is impossible. He decides to settle for the limited escape he can grasp. He simply wants “a way out”. For him, this requires taking on as much of the human world around him as possible. If he is to regain his independence, it must be as something other than his original self.
The project went live on 14 August and in less than a month, it has reached out to nearly 50,000 people.
As it goes into its second phase, the artists will be paired with one another to create a collaborative piece or will respond to each other’s artwork.
Most of them have never met each other and were only put in touch through a Facebook group, three months before the project went on the road.
On being asked if all 12 of them plan to meet in person, Avani and Ansh laugh. “We don’t really know about that,” they say. Even the two of them are based out of different Indian cities, making the project a virtual collaboration in its true sense.
The two countries are a constant presence in each other’s lives, through textbooks, classroom discussions and in the rhetoric of partition, Avani points out.
But The Pind Collective indeed brings together real people, telling the tale of real lives. These are not political stories, but an account of deeply personal and poignant experiences that you, me and lakhs of people across the borders have shared.