Elisabetta Marabotto of Saffronart recommends visiting ‘The Sahmat Collective: Art and Activism in India since 1989’ at the Smart Museum of Art, Chicago.
London: The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago is hosting the exhibition ‘The Sahmat Collective: Art and Activism in India since 1989’ until 9 June, 2013.
The exhibition featuring over sixty artists that use various media celebrates freedom of expression and egalitarian values, and aims to introduce Sahmat and its projects to audiences in the United States. Among the artists featured in the exhibition are Manjeet Bawa, Atul Dodiya, Subodh Gupta, Zarina Hashmi, Rumana Hussain, Bharti Kher, Pushpamala N., Nalini Malani, Gigi Scaria, Nilima Sheikh and Vivan Sundaram.
The collective Sahmat was created in 1989 in memory of Safdar Hashmi and against political violence. Sahmat stands for Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust and it also means “in agreement” in Hindi. Hashmi was an activist, playwright and actor who was killed by a group of political thugs while he was performing in a street play called Halla Bol! (raise your voice) during the municipal election outside Delhi. Since its creation Sahmat used different forms of art to discuss political and social problems following Hashmi’s footsteps.
Sahmat believes that art, being a very immediate and accessible medium of expression, can stimulate change, and can positions itself against religious fundamentalism and sectarianism, or so-called ‘communalism’. Its principles are to defend freedom of expression and fight against political intolerance. People from any background, religion and age can participate in the several projects by the collective that celebrate cultural diversity, communal harmony and democratic ideals.
This is an exhibition not to be missed, and a great example of the power of art to affect change.