Awardee Update: Sanket Jadia
2017 Fine Art Awardee, Sanket Jadia, recently concluded his residency at What About Art?, Mumbai.
“History breaks down in images not into stories.” - Walter Benjamin, Arcades Project (1927-1940)
My practice deals with history and historical images that chronicle events of conflict and violence. I am interested in the narratives and counter narratives that formulate the public discourse, or rather ‘popular’ discourse around these key moments. How do representations of critical junctions in history shape the way society looks back on them? Can the absence of imagery lead to the creation of a collective public memory?
Working around these questions and ideas of architecture, I situate my inquiry onto one of India’s most significant post-independence events that marked a major shift in India’s socio-cultural politics, namely the Babri Masjid demolition (a 16th CE mosque build by a Mughal king, Babur, which was demolished by right-wing Hindu nationalists in 1992). Hindus claimed that the mosque was built by razing a Hindu temple that marked the birth of Rama, a Hindu god. The destruction was an act of reclaiming the stolen sacred land. This site is a heavily militarised zone today where no one is allowed to take pictures, even though there are no longer any traces of its previous architecture. Nothing but a makeshift tent with an idol of Rama exists there now and the memory of a significant piece of history. This event became the site and sight that triggered mass communal violence across the country.
What began as an inquiry into the demolition and the events leading up to it, turned into a project of rediscovery: of the razed mysterious structure which I know only through images taken during the demolition. These images are the only surviving evidence of the structure today. The project, Residual Gaze, is not about knowing what conspired on that unfortunate day, rather, it is about the myths and mysteries that still surround this cataclysmic event in the country’s collective psyche.