In our first episode of our Art in South Asia podcast series, we sat down with Sneha Shrestha, the Mittal Institute’s Arts Program Manager, to learn more about the meaning behind her Nepali-inspired work, the most exciting art piece she’s ever worked on, and the Visiting Artist Fellowship, which brings artists from South Asia to the Mittal Institute to perform research and utilize Harvard’s resources.
Category : Fellows
In a recent paper, Professor Ian Talbot, a 2018 Mittal Institute Visiting Fellow and Professor at the University of Southampton, delved into the precarious politics of Pakistan’s formative years in the 1950s. Below is an excerpt from the paper; click the link within this post to view the paper in its entirety.
Each year, the Mittal Institute welcomes four Visiting Artist Fellows from South Asia to its Cambridge office for eight weeks, connecting them to Harvard University’s vast wealth of intellectual resources. With the applications now open for the Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 fellowships and due July 1, 2019, mid-career visual artists from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives, or Sri Lanka have the opportunity to perform research at Harvard and interact with faculty and students, exploring critical issues in South Asia through the lens of art and design.
“I was born in a very literary family full of artists, poets, and writers. The art was in the blood, and then my uncle, who is also a visual artist internationally recognized, so he basically channeled my interest into visual arts. Since then I have been involved in visual arts,” says Mahbub Jokhio, one of the Mittal Institute’s newest Visiting Artist Fellows for Spring 2019.
“In 1947, British India was divided into Pakistan and India, resulting in the largest forced migration in the history of migration. Certain records say there were about three million who migrated and were displaced, but studies done at Harvard show that the numbers were much higher — about 10–13 million people. The question becomes: Who lives to tell the story?” asks Meena Sonea Hewett, Executive Director of the Mittal Institute. “Art as a medium is a great way to tell these stories, because it allows for multiple perspectives to be shared about the Partition and the feelings associated with it.”
The landlocked, extreme northeastern region of India is connected to the rest of the nation via a corridor of land between Bangladesh and Myanmar. In the 1960s, its tribal community rose in an insurgency against the Government of India, with songs their call-to-arms. Mittal Institute Raghunathan Family Fellow Roluahpuia explains how.
For years, Mariam Chughtai has immersed herself in the study of the complex politics of identity, religion, and terrorism in Pakistan. Today, as The Mittal Institute’s Babar Ali fellow, she is writing a book that brings her research and real-world experience in South Asia to life, exploring the tension between the politics and culture of Pakistan to rewrite the narrative that has been erroneously given to the nation.
“It’s a big leap for me, personally and professionally, and the fellowship was unexpected. But in the first few days here, I have already felt the exciting academic and intellectual atmosphere. The issues that I touch upon in my own work are very much global in nature. There is a lot to learn from other parts of the world. I can listen, share my ideas and fully participate in the academic exchange.”
2018 Visiting Artist Imran Channa is a contemporary artist from Pakistan. His art practice interrogates the intersection between power and knowledge. Channa’s primary focus is on the documentation and dissemination of historical narratives and events. He explores how fabricated narratives can override our collective memory to shape individual and social consciousness and alter human responses. In this interview, we discuss how he first became interested in installation artwork and the benefits of making art abroad.