06 Jun 2022 - 19 Feb 2023

Proposals for a Memorial to Partition

Jameel Arts Centre


Proposals for a Memorial to Partition brings together proposals by artists and writers for an imagined memorial to the partitions that produced the modern nation-states of South Asia. Curated by Murtaza Vali, these proposals range from artworks and texts to sketches and maquettes, presenting a multitude of poetic and speculative approaches to a historical event that resists narrow categorisations.

In the aftermath of British colonial rule, a few crucial weeks in 1947 initiated complex and still-unresolved processes of displacement, fragmentation, conflict, and nation-building that spanned decades, and which continue to deeply scar the societies and peoples of the subcontinent. Most of the artists’ proposals hint at the impossibility of a single monument or unifying narrative. Instead, they offer delicate, informal, and often collective ways of looking at history and memory.

Some histories are forgotten while others are emphasised and co-opted, warranting the need for constant debate. This exhibition is part of an ever-changing memorialisation process that shifts with the necessities of the present. Many proposals highlight marginalised narratives, which contributing writer Saira Ansari eloquently describes as “chapters that no one remembers to remember.”

Vali initiated this project in 2011 as part of a series of publications commissioned by Sharjah Biennial 10 under the title Manual for Treason. To account for the changeable nature of remembrance, the ongoing project takes an accumulative approach, with new proposals shown alongside earlier ones.

Proposals for a Memorial to Partition includes new proposals by Bani Abidi, Saira Ansari, Hemali Bhuta, CAMP, Abhijan Toto, Fileona Dkhar and Pujita Guha for the Forest Curriculum, Shilpa Gupta, Faiza Hasan, Aziz Hazara, Karachi LaJamia (Shahana Rajani & Zahra Malkani), Shreyas Karle, Amitava Kumar, Pak Khawateen Painting Club, Sreshta Rit Premnath, Fazal Rizvi, Seher Shah, Omer Wasim and Nabla Yahya.

The project’s initial proposals were devised in 2011 by Fahd Burki, Shezad Dawood, Shilpa Gupta, Nalini Malani, Yamini Nayar and Seher Shah.

A reading list for Proposals for a Memorial to Partition is available online. Please visit the Jameel Library to access books and other material related to the exhibition.

Press release from Jameel Arts Centre