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Latitude 28 Gallery
F208 GF
Lado Sarai
New Delhi 110030   map * 
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Shrapnel: The Chamber + Pandit Houses
by Latitude 28 Gallery
Location: Latitude 28 Gallery
Artist(s): Veer MUNSHI
Date: 3 Mar - 23 Mar 2012

Points of Recall, Thresholds of Farewell

Veer Munshi has addressed a range of subjects in the course of an artistic career that spans 17 years and has been conducted in several cities, including Baroda, Srinagar, Bombay and New Delhi. But exile remains his most fundamental condition and preoccupation. Munshi has essayed variations on the self-portrait; he has explored the possibility of revitalising the genre of portraiture by means of playful, irreverent allusiveness. He has studied the effects of schismatic ideologies and the politics of violence across the planet, and reflected on the wages these exact on the trust and affection that bind individuals and communities together. Savouring the experience of travel, he has released himself towards the cultures, image-making practices and political situations of diverse geographical locations.

And yet, overtly or through camouflage beneath other concerns, Munshi returns to the key crises of displacement, disorientation, and the loss of shared assumptions of belonging. While he may have perfected the art of masking melancholia with wry humour and softened the edge of self-inquiry with self-irony, the artist remains unremittingly aware that his present is an uncertain transition between a lost homeland and a future mined with shocks and bleak epiphanies.

The interplay between the muted tonality of anguish and its opposite, the mandate of attempted detachment, is strongest in the photographs of Kashmir that Munshi has taken over several winters. The hand of snow is heavy on buildings, people, time, and the hope of movement. Our eyes settle on bridges that have almost vanished beneath snow and fog; on roofs that shoulder their burden of whiteness, and also of knowledge; on piles of snow that threaten to reduce steps, arches and walls into mere marginalia before the grander, unforgiving script of the natural cycles. The magic of the word ‘sheen’ comes back to haunt the mind: it is the Kashmiri for snow, neither image nor word to be experienced in the plains or the peninsular reaches of India.

- Ranjit Hoskote

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