Ensaaf Decade of Disappearance Art Contest
Second Runner Up
My artwork aims to bring macro statistical data into a micro, personal reality. A few months ago, I went through Jaswant Singh Khalra’s list of identified dead bodies cremated by the Punjab Police during June 1984 to December 1994. Joseph Stalin’s quote, ‘When one person dies it’s a tragedy when thousands die its statistics’ was ringing in my ears as I went through this endless list. The other quote, ‘One man’s terrorist, is another man’s freedom fighter’ is another quote which is overused and has lost meaning. Each person on the list had a family, who lost a mother, father, son, daughter, grandfather, grandmother, or friend when he or she disappeared. I twisted old quotes to bring in new relevancy and to explore the balance between micro versus macro. Jaswant Singh Khalra gave his life to the cause and the names are so close to him that they run in his veins. When Jaswant Singh Khalra discovered the truth, he was censored and exterminated, hence the covering of the eyes. He gave those who were exterminated during the decade of disappearances, a voice and presented it to the National Human Rights Commission. There were many more who could not be identified, included in a ‘List C’ in his findings. Therefore, I used the names from ‘List A’ and ‘List B’ to depict Jaswant Singh Khalra and his life, as he gave his final speech at Dixie Gurdwara, Toronto, Canada in April 1995.