Insecurity: Independence

Independence 1998
Copper & fabric
27 figures with poles

Independence, 1998 was jointly commissioned by Juginder Lamba, Brian Briggs and Nottingham Castle & Art Museum to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Indian Independence. In my work there is often a playful and disturbing element. I wanted to make a work which could be read on both a political and a personal level, relating to the idea of a martyr.

In Independence (1998) there are 27 figures made from a soft polar fleece. They’re unstuffed, so they hang limply, and they wear heavy copper boots and helmets that weigh them down. Armour is never made from copper because it’s too soft and heavy. Further to their plight they are then impaled against the wall by long copper spears. They are the remains of an army defeated in an unknown battle.

During independence the Punjab (where my family is from) was split in two, the western portion becoming part of Pakistan. Fifteen million people were displaced and one million people died.

Through my research I came to understand the history and then considered how it related to me. I decided to look at not only the theme of Indian independence, but the fight for Sikh independence (Khalistan) and independence on a more personal level.


Photo: Nick Dunmur