Manisha Gera Baswani’s parents hail from that part of undivided India which became Pakistan after Partition; so the 52-year-old artiste was raised by listening to stories of their ‘home away from home’. A collateral work of the Delhiite is being exhibited parallel to the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, featuring her photographs of works and images of 47 artists from both sides of the international border.
‘Postcards from Home’, running at 1/655, Quiros Street in Fort Kochi, has 25 of its artists from India and the rest 22 from Pakistan. Manisha’s photographs of them are in the artists’ creative spaces, and have a link with Partition. Each of them reminisce about their lost ‘home’, sharing a remote sense of nostalgia.
Manisha, a practising painter based in Gurgaon of the National Capital Territory, began photographing moments of the art fraternity 16 years ago. Then, in 2015, she embarked on a Pakistan leg of the series, titling it ‘Artist Through the Lens’. It is from these two projects running parallel between the two countries that ‘Postcards from Home’ was born, figuring Indian and Pakistani artists in their studios.
“The intention of the project is to intrigue and invite viewers with these visual frames of nostalgia, to re-kindle love, touch a cord and revive the shared connection of a common history,” says Manisha, also an occasional writer.
For the artist-photographer, listening to younger-time experiences of her parents led her to feel that the effort was to preserve one’s history. Later, each time Manisha crossed the border, “something triggered in my heart”. That led her to believe that the people on either side will forget about the war if the borders are opened.
“During my interactions with the artists from Pakistan, I noticed that India was referenced many times,” says Manisha. “It was lovely to see visitors from different age groups and section of society picking up and browsing through the cards on display each carrying and anecdote or memory narrated by an artist.”
The 47 artists in her works include Salima Hashmi, Satish Gujral, Zarina Hashmi, Anjum Singh, Waseem Ahmed, Muhammad Imran Qureshi, Aisha Khalid, Amar Kanwar, Roohi Ahmed and Zeeshan Muhammad. ‘Postcards from Home’ had earlier been exhibited at the Lahore Biennale in 2017 and Faiz International Festival at Lahore last year.
Recently, Manisha curated an exhibition of octogenarian artist A Ramachandran, her mentor. ‘The Changing Moods of the Lotus Pond and Insignificant Incarnations’ was held at Delhi’s Vadehra Art Gallery in November 2018.
Manisha has also held a solo exhibition at Gallery Espace booth at India Art Fair 2018 and earlier, in 2015, at Sanat Initiative in Karachi.
At Kochi, collaterals are exhibition projects that take place in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry at the time of the biennale, which is currently running its fourth edition.
Independent of the main curatorial project, these works will be exhibited till Tuesday....