As jingoism and nationalism rise to an all-time high, a nod to the strain between India and Pakistan is often expected, even demanded. But today, we’re not going to go there. This is not a story about the break-down in complex relations between two countries. This is a story about art and its power to transcend the barriers placed upon us right from the day we’re born—something both young Pakistanis and Indians understand well enough given that we’ve all grown up in an age of hyper connectivity. This is exactly the gap The Pind Collective, a collaborative art space that seeks to bring together young artists from India and Pakistan on a virtual platform, seeks to fill. It is an effort to look across this divide etched so deeply into our psyche, and share work that is reflective of the contemporary spaces and identities that we have constructed for ourselves instead.
The collective began as a project in 2015, but what really got the ball rolling was co-founder Avani’s trip to Lahore. She went with the same notions we all have of Pakistan— from what we’ve studied in school, right to what we hear on the news. What came through most strongly for her, however, was a sense of familiarity, that these people across this ‘border’ were like the everyone she left back at home. For Avani, ‘pind’ is a derivative of that feeling. “With roots in Punjabi, it’s a word, and a feeling that is valuable on both sides of the border. Given the centrality of Punjab in the Partition, the idea of home that it evokes - of land and hearth - is a powerful starting point for what we want this project to be – an exploration of the contemporary identities we inhabit and what bearing, if any, history has on them,” she said. She then reached out to Ansh, who was on board as a filmmaker for the collective, and in time, he became a co-founder and their journey began.
So what is this Collective, you ask? As explained on their website, the project works through a process of creation and response.
The first stage: ten artists from both nations work on a common theme, creating work that reflects what it means to be them. The idea is to let the theme morph into various forms that stem from each artist’s style. This could range from poetry, to visual art, film and illustrations.
The second stage: each artist is matched with another artist from the collective, and together they create a piece in response or in collaboration. The aim is to create a platform that connects, expands and inspires.
The Collective was launched just a short while ago, and they have already reached over 66,000 people. The response was huge even a month in, when they had already received applications for their second edition.
Despite this success, there have been a few challenges, the most pressing one being co-ordination. Ansh says, “I think once we had our social media infrastructure in place, it was all about co-ordinating with all our participating artists, making sure everybody’s timelines aligned and charting out a plan for releasing artworks. We’d prepared ourselves for a bumpy ride, considering the range of work we were expecting out of the participants as well as the amount of time and effort we knew they would require.” Another task was how to measure success of the collective in Pakistan beyond just Facebook likes. They haven’t figured out a measurement tool as yet, but are hoping interest in the project will propel artists in Pakistan towards the collective - and that is as good a starting point as any.
The success of this collective lies in the fact that it is virtual and accessible to all. As an artist and curator, Ansh believes “a virtual platform is an extremely democratic, accessible and liberating medium to work within.” Avani adds, “We want people to be reading these poems in Karachi, watching these films in Delhi and sharing their stories regardless of where they are. If the Pind Collective can help them do that, we would be thrilled.” They are propelling forward with the second phase of their first edition, simultaneously planning for their second lineup of artists.
View more incredible works of art at The Pind Collective’s website.