Artist’s Elegy

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Hina Arif’s work on displayed in Delhi.

When she landed in Delhi for studies, she carried impressions of Kashmir’s troubled history along. Through art, Hina Arif highlights sufferings back home despite threats and intimidation. Durdana Bhat reports

Hina Arif, 25, uses art to highlight human suffering, especially in active conflict zone like Kashmir, her home.

She would draw her inspiration from day-to-day experiences of life, both in Kashmir and outside it.

Since her childhood, drawing objects interested Hina. After completing her higher studies she went to Delhi and joined Jamia Milia Islamia for a bachelors’ programme in Applied Arts. Later she did her master’s from the same university.

Hina’s entire work revolves around lives of people living in conflict. Even her sketch books are covered with doodles and drawing showing pain and suffering in Syria, Palestine, Gaza and Kashmir.

In 2012, Hina used hopscotch – a game of marked squares played by kids – to highlight the happenings in Kashmir. Hina showed two kids, brother and sister, play this game, when suddenly the boy hears Azaan (call for prayers).

A poster made by Hina.

He leaves to pray while his sister waits near the hopscotch hoping he will return soon. After a while the little girl hears two gunshots. The next act shows people bringing her brother’s blood soaked body back. He is wrapped in a white cloth.

At the end of the act Hina took to stage wrapped in black cloth, wearing traditional Kashmiri jewellery, as she personifies Kashmir.

The way Hina depicts violence and innocence on the same stage is extraordinary in itself. Here she used a simple game to highlight the atrocities on kids in Kashmir.

On another occasion Hina presented a Pashto poem written by her, while a kid stood beside her, holding a blood soaked t-shirt. Hina translated the poem for her audience, helping them understand the brutalities of war.

I wish to run in my snowy courtyard,

I wish to see joy, my people happy again.

I want to give my soul and life to Kashmir, 

The hills and mountains are set ablaze.

In 2014, during her last semester in bachelors, she was given a choice to pick a campaign of her choice for project work. She chose to work on Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The idea was to highlight, rather make people aware about enforced disappearances, rapes, systematic torture, killing of Kashmiris in last sixty-years. “The aim was to document the experiences of people living in Kashmir,” said Hina.

At the same time it proved as a powerful way to protest against the subjugation of people living in conflict zones like Kashmir.

However, Hina’s work is not confined to Kashmir only, as she tries to fit in her canvas conflicts around the world. “We live in a world shaped by militarization. It has left societies dehumanized,” feels Hina.

Currently Hina is working on refugee crisis and the identity issues arising from conflict zones in the war torn Syria. “But that doesn’t need I have put Kashmir on the back burner. It is always a priority,” said Hina.

For Hina the inspiration comes from her experiences in Kashmir, which helps her understand life in different conflict zones across the world. “My art reflects what I have seen or experienced as a Kashmiri back home,” said Hina.

Witnessing atrocities back home helps Hina to relate with the sufferings of innocents across the world.

“A two-year-old kid killed in an air-strike in Syria is no different than a young pellet victim of Kashmir,” feels Hina. “The amount of pain is same across conflict zones. It cannot be measured.”

Given the political nature of Hina’s work, and her strong stand against occupations across the world, she has been threatened more than once. “Even the university authorities are not comfortable with my work,” said Hina. “But I am not bothered as long as I know I am doing the right thing.”

After completing her studies Hina wants to come back and resume her work in Kashmir. “I want to do an art therapy with the victims in Kashmir.”

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