Thursday, April 11, 2013
CHICAGO MUSEUM PAYS TRIBUTE TO SAFDAR HASHMI
ON SAFDAR HASHMI'S BIRTH ANNIV,
PAYS TRIBUTE CHICAGO
Founded as a restive response to Hashmi's death, the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (Sahmat) released here last evening, "The Sahmat Collective: Art and Activism in India since 1989, an accompaniment to the four-month exhibition hosted at the Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago.
at the Smart
Museum is currently hosting the
Sahmat exhibition. And, I can't see a more opportune and fitting tribute to
Safdar, whose birth anniversary falls on April 12," Sahmat co-founder
and photographer Ram Rahman told PTI. University
Rahman, who also edited the book along with Jessica Ross, says that the collective is a "work of almost three years of labour" and "incorporates excerpts from the various works and projects that Sahmat has been doing" in the last 24 years or so, which the exhibition is currently celebrating.
"To produce the book we have sourced the Janam (Jana Natya Manch) archives for old pictures of Safdar's life and times and his various street performances, and have over 430 images in full colour as a comprehensive documentation of Sshmat's activism over these years," says Rahman.
So, the collective has works of various artists that the organisation has collaborated with over its 20 years of existence and crystallizes the philosophy of "art community sans sectarian divisions" by presenting glimpses of its "Ham Sab Ayodhya" work in the aftermath of the 1992 Babri Mosque demolition, among others.
"Sahmat has always drawn on India's secular heritage and through its works and projects have also raised voices against art censorship and has engaged the mases and intellectuals alike in important social and political debates through a mix of high art or street culture," says Rahman.
In fact, the 1990s project which had involved a pan-Delhi contest of slogan writing on autorickshaws and taxis became a landmark even in the Sahmat's calendar and is currently turning heads at the
"The exhibition has received great reviews in the
and the red autorickshaw with black canopy, bearing the secular messages
slogans have turned heads there," says the noted photographer.
Perhaps, it was a first time in the 90s when a social group acknowledged and celebrated the rickshaw body art, although it is so ubiquitous by its presence otherwise.
Ever since the playwright, known for his open defiance to political diktats and social dogmas, was fatally attacked on January 1 on the outskirts of Delhi, the group formed in his memory says it has been attempting to promote "freedom of expression" espoused by late Hashmi's 'Jana Natya Manch', a theatre group he had founded in 1973.Hashmi's brother Sohail Hashmi, academic and activist and an avowed "Dilliwallah" remembers the day Safdar fell.
January 1, 1989 while
performing 'Halla Bol' at Jhandapur near Sahibabad, barely 23 km from Delhi,
with his street theatre group, Jana Natya Manch (Janam), Safdar was attacked by
ruling party henchmen. He died the next day (Jan 2)," says Sohail.
Janam went back to the site of attack and finished the play. On
April 12, 1989 was launched the Safdar Samaroh
and was decided to to observe the same day as National Theatre Day.
In his honour, the "
in Mandi House was renamed as "Safdar Hashmi Marg" after his death,
by the Delhi government.
Theatre veteran, M K Raina, an old friend of Safdar, who also attended the book launch, recalled Safdar's contribution in rewriting the grammar of street theatre and according it new a meaningful genre.
History doyenne Romila Thapar and renowned artist Jatin Das also attended the function.
"The book is priced at Rs 2000 but had it been published in
with such rich content and colour, the prices would have shot up. Also, the
exhibition will travel to University of North Carolina in September later this
year and to the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2016," Rahman