TAKE Memory: Editor’s Note 

“…. this struggle (waged by the oppressed and subordinated, i.e., the subalterns, were seen as struggles for recognition as equals) was extended to encompass another demand – the demand for a recognition of difference – the existence of a variety of differences that explained the diversity, density and richness of human experience.”
—Gyanendra Pandey, The Subaltern as Subaltern Citizen

 When the events of the twentieth century unfolded—the cartography of national borders, political revolutions and neo-liberalism—they prompted the desire to remember and understand the roots of diversity.  The route to chart the map of difference navigates the terrain of the historical past in the shape of archives, memoirs, museums and monuments. The ensuing experience closely tied to ‘fluid’ memory against the historical ‘data’; ‘broken’ time versus chronological ‘order’; central ‘reality’ distinct from peripheral ‘reminiscence’ contributes to amplify the voice of resistance against the grand metanarrative of a nation-building exercise.  

The current issue of TAKE, Memory emerges from the context to identify the ground of inclusive perspective on the lived experiences by extending critical inquiry on the constellation of photo-archives, monuments, memorials, visual culture and digital technology. In the same spirit, the world of representation, when navigating the spatial-temporal axis to trace the becoming of the self, could not escape the pressing concerns around political issues of identity and institutions. Geeta Kapur in her lead essay probes the representational ethics, the hidden face, and the cinematic choices made by Amar Kanwar to question the role of memory in his documentary cinema. 

Closer home, the Indian subcontinent has been a recurrent witness to the constructed account of  historical events such as the 1947 Partition of the Indian Subcontinent. The tensions have set into motion the interest towards the necessity to listen to both personal and collective memory. Towards this end, the flecks of memory shed a light on the narratives populating the margins only to expand the pluralistic environment. The exchange of letters between the artist Salima Hashmi and the writer Neelam Hussain dwells on their childhood memories of the tumultuous days of Partition. The memories which continue to be part of conversations and return to haunt homes and streets of the walled city of old Lahore. Tapati Guha-Thakurta uses a set of old photographs of the Guha Thakurta family to undertake a memory-journey into her father’s childhood in the old city of Dacca, on the other side of a twice-partitioned Bengal. Entering into an imaginary dialogue with her father about the people in these photographs and the times they inhabited, her piece traverses that liminal zone between history and inherited memories. Like Hashmi and Hussain, Deepra Dandekar traces the nostalgic stories, memories, and what the emotional history of Partition teaches many of us: scholars and friends alike. Memories of Lahore for the many Punjabi families who fled during the Partition of 1947 to Delhi, remain vibrant and alive, imbued with love. 

Iftikhar Dadi’s essay draws from the elegance and poignancy of Zarina’s art that constantly refers to the sharply etched yet abstract symbolism of the modern Urdu literary tradition that nevertheless inhabits concrete and fragmented memories of a kind of utopia, now forever sundered. Natasha Ginwala connects the cartographies of remembrance in jagged lines and colour fields to the artistic oeuvre of Ganesh Haloi. As a feminist, postcolonial intervention into the official archive of Partition memory, including the 1971 Partition of Bangladesh, Pritika Chowdhry’s work calls into question nationalist practices of remembering these legacies of communal violence and the political projects they uphold. Jacque Micieli-Voutsinas’ examination of Chowdhry’s work offers a deep reflection on this bold body of work, its aims in centering counter-memories, and the resonances of Partition memory throughout the subcontinent today.

Manuela Ciotti initiates the conversation around the notion of postmemory as it emerged from Holocaust studies in conjunction with the analytics needed to understand large-scale violence and attendant memorialisation processes in India. She looks at it from the standpoint of emergent visual-material objects that have survived Partition. As they are increasingly consequential in exhibitions on this epochal event, the essay raises questions on the nexus between ownership, class and memory that binds objects, the Partition generation, their descendants and larger affective communities. Operating in conjunction with the physical exhibitions around Partition, Katja Müller examines how the archives and collections have gone digital, with impacts on memory-making exercise and the ways we relate to the past. The digital archives with a focus on access, content sharing and crowdsourcing, however, are often more successful in creating empathy at a distance – a relevant prerequisite for active online memory-making.

 Ananya Jahanara Kabir offers a peek into the enclaves established by the Dutch, Portuguese, Danish and French from the 16th century onwards on India’s coasts that were linked through trade and colonialism to sites across the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, and to each other. While postcolonial geopolitics have severed those historical connections, we increasingly see creative producers in India activating them through their imaginative retrievals of what she calls ‘Creole Indias’. Jahanara Kabir explores some examples of this memory work to demonstrate why creolisation is a useful lens to bring into the Indian context.

The troika of production, documentation and preservation catapults the archives and the archivist into a site of historical inquiry, which asks for its extrapolation in terms of what is value-worthy of reminiscence and silence. Dilpreet Bhullar looks at the photographic practice of Anita Khemka, Imran Kokiloo and Moonis Ahmad Shah to dig deeper into the question of memory and image-archive in the Kashmir Valley. The essay probes the inevitability to reimagine the conventional notion of photographs as a reservoir of framed memory. Aditi Kumar digs into the archives of the family album of Zualfqar Ali and the photographic practice of Maryam Wahid to take into account the collective or the cultural memories of diaspora communities. 

The TAKE Memory is an endeavour to expand the many meanings entailed in the discipline of memory. This has also been achieved through the overall design of the magazine that includes artists’ insertions by Amitesh Grover, Arpana Caur, Apnavi Makanji, Sheba Chhachhi and Nilima Sheikh. The idea to move the masthead back to the top right of the cover of TAKE’s 28th issue Memory, in ‘memory’ of TAKE’s first issue Black, was proposed by Nihaal Faizal. 

The reviews by Aparna Andhare, Georgina Maddox, Najrin Islam, Oindrilla Maity, Ranu Roychoudhuri, Saloni, and Shruti Ramlingaiah underscore the plethora of art produced and made available for public viewing and consumption after the sporadic run of exhibitions in the past two years dotted with a global pandemic. When there was a critical break in the visceral experience of art, the searing quest to partake the pleasure of biennales and fair was of inexorability. The review of the 59th edition of Venice Biennale by Alka Pande lends perspective on the artistic imagination to underscore the codependency between humans and ecology. Soledad Gutiérrez Rodríguez engages in conversation with Himali Singh Soin, who is having an ongoing exhibition ‘The Third Pole’ at the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza organised by TBA21 Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary to dig deeper into the question of memories, descriptions and recordings of the landscape. The two photo-essays: ‘Tangled History’ by Jitish Kallat is a walk through his eponymous exhibition at John Hansard Gallery, the UK and Manisha Gera Baswani’s ‘Fly on the Wall’ offers a glimpse of the diasporic artists of the subcontinent origin. 

At TAKE on Art, we thrive on creative collaboration across members of art communities and institutions to open an array of plausible possibilities for working together. The report by Premjish Achari, the third recipient of the Art Writers’ Award (AWA), instituted with the support of Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia offers a personal account of his research residency programme in Switzerland. He acutely raises the importance of strategic collaboration, yet does not shy away to shine light on the complexities of such negotiations. Achari continues his association with TAKE on Art by co-curating the two-day symposium What Future Hides Writing Critically In/For a Changing Nation at Bikaner House, New Delhi as a part of Delhi Contemporary Art Week 2022. It expanded TAKE on Writing Series endeavour to fill the lacuna of critical writing within the discipline of Indian arts and aesthetics. The symposium, organised in collaboration with the JCB Literature Foundation and The Raza Foundation, opened many collaborative possibilities to learn and unlearn from shifts in critical writing as it is experienced and witnessed in India – when the nation is constantly in the making. It featured panel discussions and roundtables with art writers, academicians, curators, translators and practitioners to assess and inquire about the diverse forms of critical writing practices in art, fiction and translation.

I have been travelling to the artistically vibrant and culturally rich country of Switzerland for more than 15 years now, yet it was during one month of a research visit, supported by the Swiss Arts Council, Pro Helvetia in June 2022 that I was acquainted with the abundance of arts like never before. The research trip to a spectrum of galleries, museums and residencies in the diverse cities of Switzerland reinforced the importance of collaborations. To further nurture the bonds of collaborations, the 28th issue TAKE Memory travels to the fifth edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2022-23 for its launch. When the biennale has been postponed twice before, from December 2020 to 2021, later to 2022, due to the daunting effect of COVID-19, the event illuminates upon the resilient impulse to sustain, survive and soldier on despite the unprecedented odds we encounter. My sincere gratitude to the TAKE team especially Dilpreet Bhullar, Faris Kallayi and Tanya Dutt.


Pandey, Gyanendra. “The Subaltern as Subaltern Citizen.” Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 41, no. 46, 2006, pp. 4735–41.

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About Author

Bhavna Kakar is an art historian, curator and art advisor with an MVA specializing in Art History from M.S University, Baroda. With a decade's experience in curating, researching and editing modern and contemporary art she essays dual roles as the Founder/Director of Gallery Latitude 28 and Editor/Publisher of TAKE on art magazine. She is based in New Delhi.

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