The Sahmat Collective, Art and Activism in India since 1989

‘In 1989, the activist, actor, playwright, and poet Safdar Hashmi, was fatally attacked by political thugs during a street performance in Delhi. The murder sparked widespread grief and outrage, and the formation of the Delhi-based collective Sahmat. Created to build solidarity among artists, intellectuals, and activists on questions of conscience in current politics, Sahmat has emerged as a vital platform to promote artistic freedom and secular, egalitarian values throughout India.

The Sahmat Collective: Art and Activism in India since 1989—a companion to the exhibition of the same name presented by the Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago—relates the history of this remarkable organisation through case studies from a rich range of interdisciplinary projects and performances. Vivid images and original and new commentary from participants, organisers, and scholars situate Sahmat within both the contemporary art scene in India and the country’s political sphere. This beautifully illustrated volume thus documents compelling works of contemporary art while meditating on the power of art as a tool for social change.’ (back cover)

Held from February to June 2013, the exhibition includes works in a variety of media from over sixty artists including Manjeet Bawa, Atul Dodiya, Subodh Gupta, Zarina Hashmi, Rummana Husain, Bharti Kher, Pushpamala N., Nalini Malani, Gigi Scaria, Nilima Sheikh, and Vivan Sundaram.