Saba Taj – Borders/Portals (are so Gay)
Dimensions: 72 x 72″ finished size
Medium: acrylic paint, oil paint, spray paint, gold leaf, glitter
My father was born in 1947, the year that World War II ended and the Radcliffe line was drawn through South Asia to create Pakistan. The marking of this border, known as the partition of India, led to one of the largest and bloodiest mass migrations in history. The region of Kashmir became a disputed territory, over which multiple wars were waged between India and Pakistan, and decades of conflict. 2018, when I made this piece, was one of the “bloodiest years in a decade” in the region of Kashmir controlled by India.
My maternal grandparents lived in Pakistan-administered Azad Kashmir, and my ancestors lived there for generations. My nani ammi (grandmother) told me that the fighting was “over the next mountain” when I asked her about the conflict, though we had a nightly curfew and heavy military presence in the area.
That’s a lot of background, but it was in this context that I was thinking about borders, about line. The Radcliffe line, the “line of control” that splits Kashmir into territories occupied by India and Pakistan. In the artwork, a line splits the earth (an eye), it is a red thread soaked in red paint. Conceptually, this is part of my ongoing exploration of the spaces between binaries. In this case, a line, or a border, that creates two nations at great cost.