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"blending activism and filmmaking"




SAHMAT (Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust)
Exhibition by Artists Against Communalism

A young idealist and a member of the CPI(M) (Communist Party of India, Marxist), Safdar Hashmi was a writer, a poet, and an actor who made a conscious decision to work actively to fight for social justice and people's rights in the turbulent, rapidly changing social and political scene in India. The Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) was formed soon after his death in 1989, a coalescing of the anger against his killing. SAHMAT, which translates as 'agreement' in Hindi, was set up as a formal trust comprising some of the leading writers, artists and theatre personalities of India.

Since its inception, SAHMAT has worked to build solidarity among artists and intellectuals on questions of conscience in current politics, particularly in the area of communalism. It has attempted, more ambitiously, to build a movement where an alert consciousness will anticipate fundamentalist tendencies in India's national cultural life and provide a platform for those who want to intervene in the social processes through their practices as artists, writers and academics. SAHMAT has conducted a series of programs on the theme of Artists Against Communalism. As one example of SAHMAT's work, resistance was undertaken at considerable risk at the besieged site of Ayodhya in 1993, where in December 1992, the sixteenth century Babri Mosque was destroyed by right-wing fanatics. SAHMAT'S belief is that "…the subject-matter of art need not become uniform or populist, but it is important to create alternative forums in which further acts of public intervention are possible."

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