One of the positive implications of the post cold-war world order was to envision a globalized and multilateral world not divided by boundaries, both geographical as well psychological. Many, especially in developing countries like India, hoped for a more inclusive, level playing field, enabling the development of economic resources, exchange of thought and ideas, travel and work, i.e. the imagining of a world without borders.
Recent developments, however, threaten to re-impose a narrow world view based on segregation. It seems that the spirit of inclusiveness and plurality, which at least existed as an ideal, has been pushed back and replaced by theories of economic, cultural, racial, religious, class, gender and sexual exceptionalism.
This is not just a political description of certain sections of the western establishment to reinstate its hegemony, or a mere comment on certain chauvinistic trends in many societies across the world, it is also a call for humans everywhere in the world to re-imagine their sense of belonging and their own identity in the world. Just like external borders, the drawing and re- drawing of internal boundaries create variable identities that can either be inclusive or exclusive, can be accommodating or hostile, not just of ‘the others’ in relation to us, but also of ‘us’ in relation to the world.
During this edition of SAAS, we will attempt to define and chart the nature of borders, both the borders that are geographical, historical and cultural, as well as the boundaries that run through our minds, caused by our personal rendering of experiences—real and imagined.
In 2013, SAAS-1 invited urban artist to move to Gunehar and find common ground through their work between the urban and the rural. For SAAS-2, artists were invited to integrate local artistic and cultural traditions into their work and give them contemporary interpretation. The concepts of both the editions reflected a spirit of universalism, a belief that by crossing into the territory of the other, boundaries can be overcome and people can be brought together.
What remains, today, of that spirit of universalism? By reflecting upon the very nature of boundaries, both internal as well as external, through the eyes and works of contemporary Indian artist during SAAS-3: BORDERLINES, we hope to find some answers.