Exhibit Exposes History As The 75th Anniversary of the Partition of India Approaches

The Partition Memorial Project Showcases Rape as a Weapon of War

CHICAGO, IL / ACCESSWIRE / December 10, 2021 / The 75th Anniversary of the Partition in India will be commemorated in August 2022. India was partitioned in 1947 into India and Pakistan along religious lines. Twenty million people were dislocated across both sides of the border, as Muslims migrated to the new nation of Pakistan and Hindus migrated to India. Violent communal riots erupted all over the country, and over 2 million people died.

Socio-political artist and curator Pritika Chowdhry of The Partition Memorial Project, founded in 2007, will be part of the festivities with a controversial exhibit. The Partition Memorial Project intends to raise consciousness about a much less publicized fact that occurred during the Partition in India, the brutal rape of over 300,000 Muslim, Sikh, Bengali, and Hindu women on both sides of the border.

Chowdhry says, “the use of rape as a weapon against women is rarely ever mentioned,” and that “the widespread use of rape against women is the counter-memory of the Partition of 1947 that is omitted from the popular memory culture.”

A grandchild of the Partition, several members of her extended family were attacked and murdered in Delhi. One of her grandfather’s sisters was abducted and was never found. Her family never mentioned their Partition memories until she asked them as an adult. “When a memory is unbearable, how do you memorialize it?” asks Chowdhry.

Installation view of anti-memorial to communal riots in India since 1947,

“Traditional monuments and memorials seem inadequate to memorialize such an inexpressible issue. I felt that what is needed is an anti-memorial that will not let people forget the occurrence of mass rapes in 1947.”

Installation view of the Broken Column, an anti-memorial to the Partition of India, 1947 and the Bangladesh Liberation War, 1971

Chowdhry is a counter-memory expert and an anti-memorial specialist. In the Partition Memorial Project, her anti-memorials are quietly provocative, temporary, and incorporate visceral materials and soundscapes. Chowdhry emphasizes that her goal is not necessarily to “speak for the women” or “give a voice to the voiceless” because that would be another kind of silencing for the women. Her experiential art installations invite viewers to be in the space, in the act of bearing witness, holding space, mourning, remembrance, and repair.

Installation view of 101 larger-than-life-scale ceramic feet, Silent Waters, by Pritika Chowdhry, Anti-memorial to Partition if India 1947 and Bangladesh Liberation War 1971

The anti-memorials are thought-provoking art installations that flip the idea of traditional memorialization on its head. Chowdhry says, “it is important not to forget such atrocities because if we forget, we are bound to create conditions that will enable history to repeat itself.”


The Partition Memorial Project comprises seven anti-memorials that examine various aspects of the Partition of India in 1947, in 1971, and the ongoing communal riots and ethnic conflict in India. In addition, it also examines partitions of other countries and raises awareness about rape as a weapon of war in partitions and civil and military wars. Creator Pritika Chowdhry has an MFA in Studio Art and an MA in Visual Culture and Gender Studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She has exhibited her artworks internationally and in public and private collections and is both Senior Curator at the South Asia Institute of Chicago and a Board Member of the Woman Made Gallery in Chicago. For more information, visit The Partition Memorial Project on Facebook and Instagram. For additional information, visit https://www.partitionmemorialproject.org.

Pritika Chowdhry

SOURCE: The Partition Memorial Project

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