Memorial to Lost Words

This sound installation by Pakistani artist Bani Abidi at MCA brought me to tears. A powerful memorial to the one million South Asian/Indian soldiers who fought in WW1 but have been completely erased. My own great grandfather fought in France, under British colonial rule.

Bani Abidi’s Memorial to Lost Words is a song installation based on letters and songs from the First World War. They are not the well archived memoirs of European and British soldiers, but the words of Indian Soldiers and their womenfolk back home in India. Even a hundred years after the fact, it is a little known fact of WWI history that more than a million Indian soldiers fought in this war. So, clearly, official accounts and memorials are very rarely truthful transmitters of history. This memorial draws from letters that were written home by Indian Soldiers and folk songs that were sung by their wives, mothers and sisters at the time but were censored or forgotten because of their candid condemnation of the war.

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