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'The Sindhu Project: Enigma of roots' probes shared histories via art and archaeology

Artists Gunjan Kumar and Mahwish Chishty respond to the common histories of their origin through their art that has a strong foundation of archaeological research.

by Rahul KumarPublished on : Jun 14, 2022

Archaeology involves the study and analysis of found objects and artefacts excavated from earth. The process entails meaning making, triangulation of the research, and storytelling. All of what we understand about the evolution of mankind and society, especially from the pre-historic context, is owing to archaeological findings. The Sindhu Project embodies the responses of contemporary artists Mahwish Chishty and Gunjan Kumar to explorations of archaeological sites and artifacts in the expansive Sindhu (Indus) watershed, a geographical region stretching across present-day India and Pakistan. Both Chishty and Kumar have origins in the undivided India’s Punjab province. And both migrated to USA. Through parallel journeys involving familial roots and enigmas of inhabited places across time, they research across Taxila Valley in Pakistan and Sanghol and Dholavira in India. The Sindhu Project: Enigma of Roots is a multi-site exhibition that debuted at the South Asia Institute, Chicago, USA in June 2021, after which it was showcased in Lahore, Pakistan, in November 2021. 

Use of broken terracotta tiles, the act of dividing the art works for separate shows in Pakistan and India, and blank spaces in the exhibit that denote the ‘missing’ parts, are all strongly rooted in the very event of partition of the country in 1947.

We speak to Gunjan Kumar and Shaleen Wadhwana, curator of the ongoing India iteration hosted at gallery Exhibit320 in New Delhi.

Walkthrough with Gunjan Kumar and Shaleen Wadhwana Video: Courtesy of gallery Exhibit 320 and STIR

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