Will their fires keep you warm
A pile of sacred Hindu cow dung burns at dawn. Smoke sways in the wind as the sound of British bird calls ascend in a dawn chorus;the dung is reduced to embers.
The video is accompanied by a text reflecting upon inherited trauma, and the violence of Partition, enacted during the independence of the Indian subcontinent from British colonial rule.
Despite the secular constitution established after the dissolution of the British Raj, there has been a steady call to right wing nationalism across India. The current ruling Hindu Nationalist party, the BJP, has been accused of encouraging a slew of violent acts against religious minorities, in part by the passing of bills that threaten the citizenship of those very demographics.
Dung cakes, crafted in rural areas, are traditionally used in sacred Hindu rituals. They are now available for purchase internationally through the online retailer Amazon.
Centered in duality and decision making, Ahuja’s practice is a contemplation of the inbetween and the immaterial; the negotiation of borders, structures of power and suppression, invisible histories, and their effects on our personal and communal experiences. Often beginning from an auto-ethnographic standpoint, and in the spirit of unbelonging, Ahuja is concerned with the inherent value and language materials possess, and how the reading of a given object changes when placed in a different context.
If the individual is considered material, globalisation is perpetually challenging and creating new contexts to exist within. With the international rise of nationalism, how do we choose to define ourselves? And how do we choose to engage with experiences outside of our own?
Anchored in mediums such as sculpture, video, and text, Ahuja’s work presents itself as a steady flow of questions posed in earnest that may, however, remain unanswered.
(b. 1991) Anika Ahuja is a multi-disciplinary, Indo-Canadian artist originally from uncededTiohtià:ke (Montréal, Canada). Her work has been included in group exhibitions across Canada,and she was also awarded the Sonia de Grandmaison Endowment as part of the Emerging Artist in Residence program at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in 2018. She is currently living and working in Glasgow, UK.
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