Residency: Hacubia – A place for art
Neha Kudchadkar lives and works in Mumbai, India. During her residency at Hacubia, Jerusalem, the artist created a series of works called ‘sharing stories’. This installation includes disparate iconic ceramic elements that have been magnified and distorted [bamba snacks, window latches, a kirpan (Sikh dagger), a nargilah, a photo frame, and a section of razor wire]. They have been gleaned from Partition literature (notably by Sadat Hasan Manto) and documentary narratives about Israel and Palestine (by Ben Ehrenreich). Objects become signifiers that embody complex negotiations and responses to the ‘other’ within periods of extreme systemic violence. The ceramic pieces are tied together by a narration of fragments of the original stories.
A series of three photographs, ‘home/land’ documents micro-performances in various Israeli-Palestinian spaces. The sites of these photos include a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, and a location near the wall in Jerusalem. They explore the various complex and contradictory relationships with land, including rootedness, up-rootedness and the act of engaging in agriculture as ways of claiming and re-claiming sovereign rights to land. While the works were photographed in specific locations, the artist has aimed to strip the scenes of any overtly identifiable geographic references. Rather, they evoke no-man’s land, crossings and ‘speak out’ about local injustices. The prickly pears in one of the photos is a motif associated with Palestinian fences and used to indicate borders of fields and territories. The plant has also been appropriated by Israelis to symbolise their national identity that is prickly on the exterior and sweet in the interior. In another image, the controlled and channelled movements of people is contested. In all three images, there is a conscious attempt to remove and neutralise any specific markers of gender, race, class and privilege. The act of installing and performing these images, involved a deliberate act of contesting state and private control mechanisms.
Kudchadkar’s works evokes a subtle liminality – ephemeral, in-between moments, where stories and histories are unresolved. Liminality is of importance in post-colonial theory since it identifies the interstitial environment in which cultural transformation can take place, and new poetic and discursive forms are constituted.
The photos with the prickly pears and the Jerusalem wall were taken by Noa Bachner, and the sound piece was realised in collaboration with Yael Gur. A poem by Fikrat Goja, entitled ‘No Address’ was used in Kudchadkar’s opening performance.