The attack on the gallery that took place in ( Ahmedabad, India) on August 18, 2013 is particularly unsettling because it brings home the reality how fragile peace dialogue can be in the face of violence. Art like other forms of culture is a major part of the peace process between India and Pakistan.
Despite the large scale destruction of art, the attack also compels us to look beyond the blame game and examine why extremist politics can so successfully hold cultural peace projects hostage.
Amdavad Ni Gufa ( India) and Gallery 6 (Pakistan) both should be commended for their efforts to commemorate the independence days of both countries with a collaborative show despite the volatile environment. It speaks of their commitment to continue the cultural dialogue. There should also be widespread condemnation from Indian curators, artists, critics and galleries to mount public pressure in all available forums, to deny the Bajrang Dal jingoistic narrative a legitimacy.
It’s also imperative that the exhibition be allowed to continue its tour which should be extended to locations in Pakistan, with a changed curatorial brief that makes the photographs of the destruction, destroyed work and whatever can be salvaged of the works, along with a response of other artists, the focus of the show to start and sustain public conversations on why acts of violence cannot be a patriotic act and the reasons why the majority’s desire to end of hostilities are not allowed to triumph. Only with this sustained activity by the art community on both sides of the border we can prevent the destruction of works by 11 Pakistani artists and six Indian artists, from becoming yet another statistic in the crime registers of the law enforcers. byNiilofur Farukh Art Critic and activist