“A Short Term Memory Of Atrocity” is an attempt at experiencing history; a nostalgia, an archive of moments of a war, structural violence and the persistence of an invisible conflict. It isn’t specific to a particular district or an issue, or a clearly defined political or economical conflict, yet is an attempted comprehensiveness of a situation that goes beyond the discourses of human rights, of development, of the environment, of an ideal state, of a post-colonial oppressive machinery that is more naked, more evident, across the State-Maoist-Adivasi civil war in Central India: Dantewada; to district by district conflicts that are seldom reported; from Orissa, to Jharkhand, to Maharashtra, to Madhya Pradesh, to Andhra Pradesh, to Karnataka, and to even the streets of Mumbai, where those who live in the slums of civilization are in a constant state of transiency, and live in islands of resistance to state bulldozers and police violence.
Atrocities un-reported do not mean they did not happen. Yet for every atrocity found and preserved for memory, another takes place, and is found and preserved for memory, and the precarity of choosing to remember. To forget is to perpetuate myths. To believe myths, is to perpetuate the cycle of violence, on the myth’s own terms.
The photographs in this presentation, are set to the songs of the Murias: adivasis from Bastar district, who’ve faced brutal fratricidal violence since the advent of the paramilitary, anti-Maoist Salwa Judum in 2004-2005, where villages have been burnt down, women raped, and mothers who saved their sons from hunger, would watch them executed in cold blood. The conflict of land, moves into the city of Mumbai, where a similar economic model, is rooting people’s claims over land, and taken into the private corporate domain. This set of images, is set to the soundscape of a demolition drive and Dalit protest music from the gallis of mumbai. Another sequence is a collection of data set to independent research on the state response to public protest and demonstration, that I have been conducting for the past two years, that remain a coda to public protest, and a reflection on collective memory.
Javed Iqbal is a Mumbai-based journalist and photographer.