Overcoming conflict, India and Pakistan to share pavilion at Venice Biennale

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Artists from the countries will show in historic joint presentation next year

The Mumbai-based artist Shilpa Gupta (left) and the Lahore-based Rashid Rana will both show in the exhibition “My East is your West”

India and Pakistan will be united at the Venice Biennale next year (9 May-22 November 2015) in an official joint presentation at the Palazzo Benzon. The Mumbai-based artist Shilpa Gupta and the Lahore-based artist Rashid Rana will share a pavilion, exhibiting under the title “My East is your West”.

The pairing is significant given the history of conflicts between India and Pakistan. “I wish for the [Indian] subcontinent to be a space akin to the European Union, where individuals from neighbouring countries can have the freedom of movement and ideas,” Rana says. “Initiatives such as this project may prove to be a journey towards the realisation of this dream, which may not come true in my lifetime, but I hope that it does in my son’s.”

In the past, both India and Pakistan have been poorly represented in Venice. After a carefully curated national pavilion at the 2011 biennale—India’s first official representation—the country did not return in 2013. Before that, the country had shown unofficially in Venice eight times since between 1954 and 1982. Pakistan has also had a patchy presence at the biennale, last showing there in 1956, according to a spokesman for next year’s project.

The exhibition is being organised by the Gujral Foundation, which was founded in India in 2008 by Mohit and Feroze Gujral, the son and daughter-in-law of the Indian Modernist artist, Satish Gujral. The non-profit organisation supports contemporary art and design on the Indian subcontinent.

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