The major event of the Bengal Famine of 1943 was the historical backdrop of this work ‘Menu of Desire’. Still considered to be one of the most calamitous man-made events of the 20th century, where more than three million Indians perished due to malnourishment and starvation- it is a brutal reminder of colonial greed and despotism. The idea of starvation produces food not just as a site of nourishment, but also of desire and longing. It is this desire that contributed to the joy and the rage of the process of making this work.
This exhibition "Prosaic Elegy For Hungry Streets" by the artist Sujatro Ghosh brings to the fore the relationship between memory, desire and food. The catastrophic Bengal Famine of 1943 is the historical backdrop of these works.
Considered to be one of the most calamitous man-made events of the 20th century, where more than three million Indians perished due to malnourishment and starvation - the Bengal famine is a brutal reminder of colonial greed, plunder and despotism. The idea of starvation then, produces food not just as a site of nourishment, but also of desire, longing and justice. It is this desire that fuels the joy and rage of works in this exhibition.
শ্রীচরণেষু ভাত… (Dear Rice…) imagines a funeral of rice held in a dystopia, where rice is on the verge of extinction. While Sujatro Ghosh’s video and installation metaphorically show the presence and absence of rice in human life, his sonic archives shares us personal accounts of Bengali women, which revolves around the idea of resistance, remembrances and communal history of Bengal and South Asia. The sonic archive, in Bangla and English, emphasizes the significance of rice as a form of nutrition, a crop, as well as its cultural, social, and commemorative significance. The archive reminds us of the Indian Farmers protesting against the farmers bill** of 2020 for their rights to harvest. Above all, the work serves as a reminder of the brutal colonial accounts of the Bengal Famines, and how rice is "irreplaceable" in people’s life.
শ্রীচরণেষু ভাত… (Dear Rice…) reveals the point where human greed collide with the complex moral issues related to exploitations of other beings. Human greed has triumphed, prompting crises which have stripped off rice, which was once the lone companion for many. Furthermore, it would serve as a sombre reminder to subsequent generations to act or potentially lose what may have been a part of their lives.
** Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance, Farm Services Bill, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020: These three legislations were introduced by the Far-right populist Indian government in the year 2020, soon after protests erupted since they were seen as anti-farmer laws. Several farmers' organizations vowed an enhanced movement against the acts across the length and breadth of India. After almost a year-long protest, the Indian Government repealed the agricultural legislation, citing a victory to the people in November 2021.
Curated by Yeni Ma
Thanks to Srabasti Ghosh, Brunella Torricelli and Aparajita Ghosh for their contributions to this work.
‘Geography of Hate’ is an exhibition that aims at investigating what happens after the ‘Pied Piper’ has maniacally played their tunes of ferity. How does one behold the treacherous tunes of the scalawag and transmogrify the embedded abhor?
"Fate of a Nation" is a piece of transformative multipurpose clothing that depicts a post-apocalyptic world. The body of work brings into question the construct of a nation state and nationalism.
Performance, Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre, Japan
Shows, performances and lectures you've missed in the recent past: Berliner Festspiele, Whitworth Museum & University of Manchester, Bärenzwinger (Berlin), King's College, London & The Royal Historical Society, FoodCultureDays (Vevey), nGbK (neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst Berlin)