Pritika Chowdhry:

What the Body Remembers

April 3 – 18, 2009

Presented in conjunction with the South Asia Language and Area Center at the University of Chicago


We live in an epoch marked by prolonged and violent conflicts over terrain – geopolitical as well as psychological. To highlight but one of many examples of this issue, I have focused on the specific historical event of the partition of colonial India in 1947 that resulted in the creation of India and Pakistan. A watershed event in the ongoing communal and sectarian violence in the sub-continent, the Partition, as it is called in South Asia, resulted in 12 million people being uprooted and dislocated because of the new national borders. And, over 2 million Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs were killed in the Partition riots that ensued. Over 100,000 Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh women were raped and abducted in the Partition riots. […]

What The Body Remembers installation is comprised of a series of sculptures that investigate the potential of the twice-life-size fragmented body to invoke collective narratives of trauma. Comprised of lower-halves of the female body, the sculptures are caught in moments of play as they are engaged in childhood games such as playing on a swing, hopscotch or skipping rope. These childhood games engage the body in pleasure of a physical nature, and simultaneously function as a screen memory. […]

I believe that representations of violence are difficult and problematic to say the least. Therefore, I feel that any kind of monument or memorializing ritual for historical traumas such as the Partition would have to be multiplicitous, fragmented, temporary and peripatetic. My intent with these installations is to create a space of remembrance for the viewers, and provide several entry points for viewers from different cultural heritages.