Sahmat collective: Art and activism in India since 1989
The influential Delhi-based collective Sahmat has offered a platform for artists, writers, poets, musicians, actors, and activists to create and present works of art that promote artistic freedom and celebrate secular, egalitarian values since 1989.
The collective formed in the weeks after playwright, actor, and activist Safdar Hashmi was fatally attacked by political thugs while performing a street play. In the more than twenty five years since, Sahmat has drawn on India’s secular heritage and an expansive group of collaborators to produce a series of projects that engage in important political and social debates through a mix of high art and street culture.
Animated by the urgent belief that art can propel change and that culture can reach across boundaries, Sahmat has offered a platform for an expansive group of artists and collaborators to present powerful works of art that defend freedom of expression and battle intolerance within India's often divisive political landscape.
Sahmat's projects are defined in part by their consistent stance against the threat of religious fundamentalism and sectarianism—known in South Asia as "communalism"—in public life. Collaborations have cut across class, caste, and religious lines and have involved artists, performers, scholars, and a wide array of other participants, such as the Hindu, Sikh, and Muslim auto-rickshaw drivers in the contest Slogans for Communal Harmony. Projects also have sought to counter political distortions to India's history, most notably in Sahmat's multifaceted response to the demolition of Babri Masjid (Babur's Mosque) in Ayodhya. In other cases, Sahmat has sought to celebrate India's cultural diversity and democratic ideals, engaging artists to create work that responds to ideas of national history and individual identity.
Sahmat Collective: Ways of Resisting
Revitalizing popular culture and personalized ideas of nation. Intervening deep into daily lives of people. Sahmat Collective: Slogans for Communal Harmony
Black book artist statement of Sahmat.