Conversation between Ina Puri & Shahidul Alam.
Against all odds and not with standing the turbulent political crisis across our nations, we were able to go ahead and exhibit Shahidul Alam’s brilliant and edgy ‘Kalpana’s Warriors’ in New Delhi, a while ago. In every which way this was a show that threw many a challenge. According to specific instructions from the activist-photojournalist we had darkened the space and the interiors of the gallery were illuminated with candles, their flickering light casting long shadows on the walls. The atmosphere created was deliberately dramatic and desolate. As the viewers gathered, in solemn silence looking at the portraits and writings on the wall, we read from Kabita Chakma’s ode to Kalpana Chakma, bringing her presence alive. In Chakma dialect, Rosy1 read out the lines that resonated with the sober mood in the room. While we did not understand her words, her tone was evocative and poignant, Kalpana’s last message before she went missing.
To share with those who could not view the show, here are a few probes and responses that Shahidul Alam and Ina Puri exchanged, especially for the readers of TAKE on art. The images are from the current showing of ‘Kalpana’s Warriors’ at Autograph ABP in London from where it travels to Argentina and other places.
Ina Puri (IP): There is an elegiac mood to this show, Shahidul; a deep sense of melancholia. Unlike the other exhibitions you have curated or participated in, ‘Kalpana’s Warriors’ began with a painful premise. Kalpana had gone missing and the worst was expected. Your views?
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