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Zarina Hashmi

This video brought to you by Tate.org.uk

Zarina Hashmi left India in 1958. Around the same time, her family were subject to relocation from Delhi to Karachi following the partition of India and Pakistan. As a result, exile and the loss of the family home are embedded in her work, which often evokes physical and psychological spaces relating to memories of childhood and later life. Hear the artist speak about her piece Letters from Home (2004), a set of woodcuts in which handwritten letters from her sister Rani are overlaid by maps and floorplans that represent the artist's travels and places where she has lived, exploring the relationship with her native language and origins.
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Video transcript

I first came to New York in 1973 I really don't have a family in India the country was divided you know millions of people move from one side to the other but when you are young you you know you don't get it because I was ten years old it hit me much later it's almost like you know writing your life story and it's not just my story it's the story of all immigrants and that's where the home comes in the idea of home and maps and floor plans I have been questioned why you call it letters from whom my sister wrote to me she will always be my home because we shared a childhood you know 21 years of of a life filled we lived in under one roof you know my work is about writing and most of the writing is done in black ink so it's black and white for me the image follows the words and they all come from they all have a reference somewhere mostly in poetry I just made my personal life the subject of my art so I have to write about what I have gone through oh it's very painful I have opened up my life as I say to the scrutiny of strangers my sister she was writing to me informing me that mother passed away and the sister passed away house has been sold and I thought put that letter in a house that my my mother will have a house I have shown it in different ways some time as a great or some time just in one line it depends what kind of space you have will you hang it differently when I'm carving and I use plywood Sheena and his face off to cut I just like the texture of wood I like like the you know the way you dig in can say but it is it is a rock when I came in the 70s they never not many artists I think people are you know beginning to look at people who came from other cultures and what they bring I thought it will be difficult but lately the younger generation has has responded to it which which makes me happy you