India and Pakistan Collaborate For The Venice 56th Biennale

As one of the more interesting collateral events of the 56th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia The Gujral Foundation has announce My East is Your West, a Collateral Event of the 56th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, which unites for the first time at the Venice Biennale the historically conflicting nations of India and Pakistan in a shared exhibition by artists from both countries.

Internationally recognised artists Shilpa Gupta (Mumbai, India) and Rashid Rana (Lahore, Pakistan) will present a new series of works in a shared exhibition at the Palazzo Benzon, situated in the centre of Venice on the Grand Canal. As neither India nor Pakistan has a permanent national pavilion at the Venice Biennale, this presentation will provide a unique platform for artists from South Asia to enter into a dialogue through the arts. My East is Your West is conceived by Feroze Gujral, Director and Founder of The Gujral Foundation, and titled after a light installation by Shilpa Gupta. The Gujral Foundation have partnered with the Fondazione Antonio Mazzotta on the project with Martina Mazzotta, Head Curator, programming collateral events in Italy. Natasha Ginwala is Curatorial Advisor and Curator of Public Programming.

“We come from a shared past, we have a divided present and we hope for a collaborative future” – Feroze Gujral, Founder & Director, The Gujral Foundation

Born out of the desire to reposition the complex climate of historical relations between the South Asian nation-states of India and Pakistan, My East is Your West will present these two countries as a shared cultural cartography within the context of the Venice Biennale. The thought of how the world would have been different had India and Pakistan not been measured by borders lies dormant but is ever present. In view of their practices, and as one artist from each country, Gupta and Rana have been invited to create a unique presentation in which a series of works will express the integral essence of a people divided, a history which spans antiquity, colonial modernity and a cosmopolitan present entangled in conflict.

This journey towards conceiving a shared platform in Venice builds on the artists’ concerns to negotiate between the individual and the communal in relation to the ‘everyday’ experiences of collective consciousness. Within their practices both artists explore notions of location and dislocation, transnational belonging, and the impact of cultural and political conditioning in determining our relationship to geographical and national territories. With works that challenge the modern nation-state and its divides, while bringing to the foreground entangled realities of the Indian subcontinent, Gupta and Rana have developed a material aesthetic that surveys the potential of a common region, separate from the state and its model. 

Image : Shilpa Gupta © all rights reserved by the artist

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