Abu Dhabi Art

08 Nov – 11 Nov 2017

Nalini Malani & Iftikhar Dadi: Bloodlines

Bloodlines was produced in 1997 as a collaboration between Bombay-based artist Nalini Malani and the Karachi-based Iftikhar Dadi. Malani was born in Karachi in 1946 and moved to Bombay (now Mumbai) a year later, in 1947. As a leading artist, she has played a principal role in artistic investigation of the Partition and its legacies. Dadi, who was born in Karachi, has long been interested in a productive and collaborative relation between art, craft, and informality in South Asia. His parents were based in Bombay and traversed the new border to Karachi after the Partition. The crossed trajectories in the biographies of these artists are emblematic of the dislocated experiences of innumerable others.

Malani and Dadi first met in 1996 in Copenhagen, and they subsequently decided to collaborate on Bloodlines to offer a version of history at variance with the official celebrations of India and Pakistan on their 50th anniversaries of Independence and establishment as nation-states. The work remaps the borderlines created by the Radcliffe Boundary Commission, which was appointed to demarcate the Partition and was headed by Sir Cyril Radcliffe, who was given only five weeks to complete the task and had never visited India before, nor had he any knowledge of its complexities. Enormous bloodshed and dislocation followed the demarcation.

Both the 1997 version of Bloodlines and the more recent ones were produced in Karachi by embroidery professionals who work in zari, the traditional metal-wrapped threads used to embellish Indian and Pakistani garments.