Mir Suhail talk at his “Habour: Port of Kashmir” exhibition with Mahum Shabir, in conversation with Tanveer Ajsi

Source: “Unexceptional violence and laughter in Kashmir: Two artists’ works on display in Bengaluru” by Sahana Maddali

Organized as a part of a series of talks and discussions about life in Kashmir called Habour: Port of Kashmir, the exhibition features the cartoons of Mir Suhail, and the works of artist and advocate Mahum Shabir.

Mir Suhail is a political cartoonist whose satire on crisis-ridden Kashmir is informed by the grimness of the times he lives in. As he sat on the little stone bench in the garden laid bare by the summer heat, he said, “My cartoons have a dark humour. You won’t really laugh. You will understand what goes on there.”

The plain white walls of the venue showcased up to 40 slap-in-the-face cartoons. One showed the Indo-Pak talks between the top leaders of the two countries as a house of cards, and the leaders themselves having fans for heads. Another titled “Diwali in Kashmir” showed bullets raining down upon people. Mir Suhail’s art is simple, yet powerful.

“I used to make cartoons where you could laugh. But how much can you laugh when people are dying? I use dark humour because the situation in Kashmir is dark,” says Mir, on the title of his exhibition –  ‘Laughing in Kashmir’.

“I feel that unity and freedom of speech are being finished,” he said. “For example take saffronization,” he said while explaining one of his cartoons. “You can see in the cartoon that a man has taken a flag (the Indian flag) which had unity: three colours representing different communities. Every colour has a meaning, but he’s painting it all into one colour, orange. If you think of it in terms of religion, green is for Muslims, white for Christians and orange for Sikhs and Hindus. Now everything is becoming saffron.”

Although there were apprehensions that the exhibition would be disrupted, Mir however said he was not afraid. “I am living in a high militarized area in an area where people have guns. That’s why I’m here. Right now I’m 26, I’ve been drawing political cartoons for ten years.”

“I don’t have any favorite cartoons, because the situations in Kashmir are not my favorite. They are painful, and I want to counter them. All my cartoons have been made from pain,” he said echoing the philosophy of his work.

Full text here: http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/unexceptional-violence-and-laughter-kashmir-two-artists%E2%80%99-works-display-bengaluru-44009

Pic Source: http://zehawk.in/events/port-of-kashmir/

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