In 2017, the Partition of India is marked by its 70th anniversary. Drawing on the readings of departure and partial histories, the exhibition Part Narratives commemorates this event, and brings the art production that surrounded it within museum and art discourse. At the same time it turns our attention to issues of migration as they beset the world at present, to the long shadow of Partition and its passage through time.
As a subject of engagement Partition has generated painting, photography, drawings, sculpture, cinema, theatre, television productions and a multiplicity of oral testimonies textual writing on this major cataclysm in Indian history. Partition as a subject has persisted and leaked through the decades, extending from the eye witness sketches of the artist as diarist in the 1940s, to the conceptually universal art works of the present time. Over this period, the issues around Partition have been problematized and gained relevance beyond the actual event. As a discontinuous but distinct body of work, Partition as a subject is remarkable in its outpouring of a response that persisted, despite the absence of institutional support.
The exhibition draws on three principal timelines of art produced around the event: art as testimonial, which comprises the artists’ eye witness accounts of the event of the 1940s and 50s, art as residue in the decades of the 60’s to the 80’s, and finally the event as historic imperative that invites reflection and understanding even seven decades later.