Unity in Diversity
Video Installation, 7 ˝ minutes looped, sound, 2003

They poured petrol in the
mouth of a six-year-old and
then threw in a lit match

he blew up like a bomb

Eyewitness account, Gujarat genocide, 2002

  ‘Unity in Diversity’ is based on the allegorical painting ‘Galaxy of Musicians’ by the late 19th century Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma. It shows eleven musicians, all women dressed in the different costumes of India signifying unity in diversity. This painting was shown at the World Congress of Religions in Chicago 1893 where the philosopher Swami Vivekananda addressed the danger of orthodoxy in religion. A nascent concept of nationalism was emerging at this time with strong reformist movements.

The video contrasts this with later histories of the rise of fascism and the genocide in Gujarat in 2002 that shook the roots of this democratic country leaving mayhem and despair in its wake. What starts off as a visual fairy tale, where all parts of the nation play in harmony together, ends in a bloodbath.

Living room setting, flat screen monitor of 29"or back projection, false wall painted deep crimson, ornate gold frame, b/w photo of Nehru and Gandhi, 2 wall lamps, 2 art deco chairs.
Dimensions variable.

Partly funded by the Kalaghoda Festival, Bombay.

Solo show at Bose Pacia Modern, New York.
Exhibited at the Kalaghoda Festival, Bombay; 'diVerge- 40th Anniversary of Gallery Chemould' at National Gallery of Modern Art, Bombay; 'The Making of India Project' at the Sahmat Show, New Delhi;
'Ok Video' in Indonesian National Gallery, Jakarta; 'Visual Performane' at Walsh Gallery, Chicago; 'Edge of Desire' in Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth and Asia Society, New York.

read essay by Chaitanya Sambrani

copyright © 2004 Nalini Malani