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THE WORD FOR WORLD IS HOME-Project Home
BY SEEMA KOHLI
6TH APRIL 2019
In The Word for World is Home Seema Kohli reclaims a new universalism, this time from a quarter that is both local and personal, shoring it up with arcane concepts from Indian philosophical thought, half-forgotten in the face of blinding atmosphere of divisive hatred and exclusionary politics that has caught the world in its thick. Centred around a multi-sensory theatrical performance that strings together her father’s recollections of his ancestral land Pind Dadan Khan in the pre-Partition India as recorded in his autobiography Miter Pyare Nu the exposition engenders meditations on the difficulty of policing memory. Animated with the help of shadow puppetry and projection mapping of a range of ephemera pointing to the time,The Word for World is Homemobilises a universalist hope for a land without borders conveyed by the ancient Sanskrit Mahavakyas (grand pronouncements) ‘Vasudhaivakutumbakam’ (the world that is one family) and ‘Tat TvamAsi’ (you are it). Whilst singing the song of resistance posed by geographical, environmental, natural and affective phenomenon to socio-political institutions, the presentation incidentally sheds light on the knowledges lost of geographical affinities and collectivising principles as well as alternative medicinal systems and nomadic practices that frequently negotiated civilizational superstructures without being co-opted by them. The subsumption of nomadism into a global body politic and the failure of the current socio-political systems in dealing adequately with these large-scale migrations problematically dubbed as the ‘refugee crisis’ creates fresh context for re-thinking universalism and reviving abandoned utopias. By presenting this primordial tale of movement of mankind through the vantage of her family’s history of migration, Kohli takes the pulse of this contemporary moment of mass-unbelonging, expressed as a susurration of solidarity (in the words of her father): ‘Separation is a bigger relationship than a union’.
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