Artist – Nalini Malani

In Search of Vanished Blood, 2012

Galerie Lelong
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Nalini Malani, widely considered the pioneer of video art in India, continues themes explored throughout her illustrious career: violence, the feminine, and the politics of national identity. Committed to the role of the artist as social activist, Malani focuses on creating dynamic visual stories about those who have been ignored, forgotten, or marginalized by history.

Drawn from history and culture and from her direct experience as a refugee of the Partition of India and the legacy of colonialism and de-colonization, Malani presents a highly personal narrative, with mesmerizing layers of imagery and sound that require time for the viewer to absorb.

In Search of Vanished Blood takes its title from the 1965 Urdu poem Lahu Ka Surag and is inspired by the 1984 novel Cassandra by Christa Wolf and the 1910 book The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria Rilke. Literary texts, mythology, and actual historical events are a basis for much of the content in Malani’s work.

There is no sign of blood, not anywhere.
I’ve searched everywhere.
The executioner’s hands are clean, his nails transparent.
The sleeves of each assassin are spotless.
No sign of blood: no trace of red,
not on the edge of the knife, none on the point of the sword.
The ground is without stains, the ceiling white.

This blood which has disappeared without leaving a trace
isn’t part of written history: who will guide me to it?
It wasn’t spilled in service of emperors –
it earned no honor, had no wish granted.
It wasn’t offered in rituals of sacrifice –
no cup of absolution holds it in a temple.
It wasn’t shed in any battle –
no one calligraphed it on banners of victory.
But, unheard, it still kept crying out to be heard.
no one had the time to listen , no one the desire.
It kept crying out, this orphan blood,
but there was no witness. No case filed.
From the beginning this blood was nourished only by dust.
Then it turned to ashes, left no trace, became food for dust

Faiz Ahmad Faiz
(Translated by Agha Shahid Ali)

Nalini Malani was born in 1946 in Karachi. She is represented in numerous public collections, including the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Modern Art, New York, National Gallery of Modern Art, new Delhi/ Mumbai; British Museum, London; and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Her fifteen solo museum exhibitions have included: 2014 at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi; 2014 at the Asia Society Museum, New York; 2012 at Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; 2010 at the Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne; 2007 at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; and 2002/2003 at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York. Malani was honored in 2013 with the prestigious Arts and Culture Fukuoka Prize and in 2014 with the St Moritz Art Masters Lifetime Achievement Award. She lives and works in India and Europe.