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Veer Munshi relocates his Exile

by Kuldeep Raina

Veer MunshiExile is a profound tragedy. Those who do not experience it cannot feel its pain. It shatters the victim. Fear, Displacement, Marginalisation, continued Genocide, Rootlessness, Alienation, Social disintegration, deculturation all accompany genocide.

There are two responses from the civil society of the victimised community. Sensitive sections give meaning to the exile, regenerate the community and prepare it for retrieving what has been lost. Hedonist segment advocates accepting exile as a fait accompli and to justify the compromises invents its own politics based either on betrayal or incomprehension. One cannot be neutral to one's own genocide and destiny. In responding to genocide the victim does not have an option of remaining 'objective', of course he can be rational.

His strong commitment to fight genocide is the key to his survival. An artist has to survive as well. In a milieu where the victim's politics does not fall in 'political correctness' an artist, a creative one, has a greater challenge i.e. to combine sheer commercialism with intellectual concern to maintain visibility on the genocide.

Veer Munshi, a famed painter, who was displaced from Kashmir alongwith other members of his community in 1990, has shown how a responsible artist can serve the twin concerns -  addressing the genocide and perpetual exile, besides the larger commitment to the issues faced by the minorities all over the world and the victims of unjust wars (waged either for ideology or for imperialist expansion).

Minorities have been victims of the same phenomenon -  religious intolerance and cultural/ethnic exclusivism.

Erosion of the state, where the state is either unable to defend the minority or is apathetic, too has contributed to the marginalisation of minorities, displaced as a result of ethniccleansing.

In his first exhibition in early nineties, Veer Mushi's focus was - the process and the tragedy of displacement of his owncommunity.

It has been a long journey since then. Munshi has witnessed the helplessness of the people in New York, in London, in West Asia, and in Mumbai.

His latest exhibition titled 'Encounter' - jointly promoted by Art Alive Gallery and the Visual Arts Gallery, was on display at India Habitat Centre on 25-30 August. He describes his journey from 'focus on personal genocide' to 'larger genocide of peoples' affected by terrorism' as his commitment to social responsibility.

He attributes his sensitivity to the experience of his own history. Munshi asks the people to remain vigilant.

Munshi's works on display combine three themes: Division -  ideological, political. Belief and identity divide the communities, Partition - which is the geopolitics of this divisionin the Indian subcontinent, West Asia and elsewhere, Migration -  is the fallout of partition where millions of refugees are battling the marginalisation and rootlessness. Munshi has used the river to show the divide because it evokes nostalgia. It is a metaphor for territorial division.

He comments that 'Division' is a malaise threatening the ordinary citizens in every country.

Silence of weaver: Shikara, here as in Missiles of Faith, has been used as a meaningful metaphor not to remind us of Kashmir's beautiful Lakes but to transport the viewer across the shores to death and destruction. Here a Shikara is hung up and laid to rest on a wall.

It is adorned with profile of AK- 47 to convey that the beautiful paradise now lived under constant fear of terrorism.

Partition Eye To Eye: Two men crouch on either of the border  

Dialogue: Two large dogs confront each other across the border.

Gandhi vs Gandhi: It is shown that only Gandhi was against the partition.

The divide in each is shown with a river. The river is shown as symbol of divide because it invokes nostalgia.

Will there Redemption of Peace: It shows a huge wooden drum with a flock of white pigeons.

Below the circumference is the face of a Kashmiri, middle-aged braving unfriendly weather but who still retains hope.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel



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