Anatomy of Distance
electric wire, metal rings, motion sensor,
LED buzzer alarm and indicator pilot lamp
Electrical cables woven together to resemble barbed wires are a central motif in the works of Reena Kallat. The artist advances her subversive exploration of the symbolism of everyday objects in Anatomy of a Distance where woven electrical cables snake across conjoined metal frames to take the shape of the ‘Line of Control’ or LoC—the contested de facto border between the Kallat’s native India and its neighbor Pakistan. Both are sister-nations created by the bloody partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 on its independence from Britain.
The LoC is a ceasefire line drawn following the 1971 war between India and Pakistan over the secession of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). The line divided Kashmir, a region claimed by both nations, in two, severing close-knit communities and families. On the ground today the Loc is a heavily militarized double-layered wire fence, electrified and fitted with heat and motion sensors, alarms, and land mines to detect and destroy ‘infiltrators’. The artist evokes this border by the use of circuitry and motion-activated LED lamps and alarms. The border line is woven on frames that resemble wooden frames used in home embroidery, evoking the space of family and peaceful domesticity sacrificed at the altar of aggressive religious nationalism.