Portrait of the artist. Photo by Ram Rahman. Courtesy Luhring Augustine, New York. 

Memories of Zarina Hashmi

In 2011, Zarina Hashmi was one of four artists selected to represent India at the 54th Venice Biennale, in the country’s first national pavilion. When the curator, poet, and theorist Ranjit Hoskote wrote about his curatorial premise for the pavilion as a laboratory for studying the concept of the nation, he cited Sunil Khilnani’s passage from The Idea of India (1998): “ultimately, the viability—and most importantly, the point—of India’s democracy will rest on its capacity to sustain internal diversity.” At Venice, Zarina exhibited her suite of 36 abstracted woodblock prints, Home is a Foreign Place (1999), dedicated to memories of the place she was born, along with a hanging strand of gilded lightbulbs, Noor (2008), and Blinding Light (2010), a gold-leaf-covered sheet of paper. For Hoskote, Zarina’s art “emerges from the quest of a subjectivity profoundly shaped by the trauma of the 1947 Partition of British India. In a profound sense, it embodies India’s birth moment, when Independence and Partition occurred together, producing lifelong questions of identity and belonging for South Asian Muslims.”

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