What do you take with you when you don’t know whether you will live to see tomorrow? Do you take anything at all? Is it the tangible- money, valuables, luggage or the intangible that accompanies you- memories, values, a feeling of displacement…
With the departure of British rule, both India and Pakistan could call themselves free nations. But apart from gaining independence in August 1947, it also paved the way for the largest mass migration of people in the history of the world, moving to and from both countries.
‘Remnants of a Separation’ attempts to narrate an alternative history of the Partition of India through material memory. It is a study into the objects that individuals took with them when they left their homes at the time of the Great Divide- the belongings that became a part of their life, their journey- whatever shape it was to take, and those which are now a part of their histories.
Whatever objects remain today from this event carry within it the history of a place and the distant image of a true home. These objects and the individuals that they belong to are the subjects of this multidisciplinary research work that takes the form of images and text based on primary interviews, historical study and factual research.
Remnants of a Separation is Aanchal Malhotra's MFA thesis. Its research was conducted in collaboration with Concordia University and The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP) , Lahore. Excerpts from the project have been published in The Friday Times, The Delhi Walla, The Indian Express, Scroll.in, The Caravan Magazine and Elle India. Part of the project has been displayed on the Google Cultural Institute.
Aanchal is a multidisciplinary artist living in Delhi. She received a MFA in Studio Art from Concordia University in 2015. Third generation of the 'Bahrisons Booksellers' family, she currently works as Literary Agent at Red Ink Literary Agency, and can also be found at her photoblog, The Hiatus Project, which chronicles her love affair with the city of Delhi, its history and magic. She also currently sits on the advisory board for The Partition Museum.