“Shaheed / Witness / Kashmir presents the work of nine photographers from Kashmir. These images were created between 1986- 2016 in Indian controlled Kashmir, as its people found themselves pulled between the exhilaration of a struggle for freedom and the violence of its consequences. First brought together in the Witness photobook project (2017) the curation sought to draw attention to the language in which a generation of photojournalists in Kashmir made pictures as a way of translating what they were enduring."
While a comprehensive installation of all nine photographers work can be seen at Campbelltown Art Centre, these striking images become a large public monument at Cockatoo Island that occupies a kind of liminal street space, a way to witness from afar a conflict which rages on after three decades of unspoken war in Kashmir valley that has seen at least 70,000 dead, 10,000 ‘missing’, and many more carrying the trauma left by torture, sexual violence, and an oppressive military presence that has turned the region into one of the most militarized zones in the world. In Arabic, Persian and Urdu, the word ‘witness’ translates as Shaheed, and in all three languages the word carries a second implication, that of ‘martyr’. These images carry that double-meaning and the space in-between, suggesting that to witness is also to offer oneself – in regard to these photographers, to not only document a conflict to feed global media demand, but to confront it, often daily, to live within it.