Tilting at Thresholds: Partition in Modern versus Contemporary South Asian Art & Exhibitions

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


“Partition is a productive space,” Pakistani curator Hammad Nasar opined optimistically in the catalogue for his exhibition, “Lines of Control” in 2012. His statement appears to echo postcolonial theorist Homi K. Bhabha’s declarations about the productivity of thresholds, lines and borders. This essay discusses modern and contemporary art and exhibitions in the context of this statement. Bhabha, of course, makes much of the generative properties of borderlines – exploring how the dividing line reappears in all of them as a double-gesture: both as a symbol of conflict as well as a sign of creative virtuosity. This is the promise that such exhibitions and hopeful cultural theorists pin their hopes on. Hence, this essay seeks to discover if p/Partition as an artistic and intellectual motif is really a “productive space” – and if so, on what basis? The text pays attention to the implications of using political motifs as creative inspiration for art exhibitions and theoretical musings – with critical concentration on the ‘borderline’ cogitations of Bhabha.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe 1947 Partition of British India
Subtitle of host publicationForced Migrations and Its Reverberations
EditorsJennifer Leaning, Shubhangi Bhadada
PublisherSAGE Publications India
Number of pages34
ISBN (Electronic)978-93-5479-320-2
ISBN (Print)978-93-5479-290-8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • South Asian art
  • Politics
  • Trauma
  • British India
  • Partition
  • Migrations


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