Field research, Multimedia Installation

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are group of islands at the confluence of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea. Since 1000 the islands have experienced colonisation on the part of several empires. Though now part of India, indigenous tribes that predate colonial conflicts and presence are still the sole inhabitants of many of the islands. continue to inhabit their native islands. In 1858 the British erected a penal colony for political prisoners at Port Blair and in 1896 they built the infamous Cellular Jail, also known as Kālā Pānī. In Cellular Jail, the inmates were held in solitary confinement and controlled with a calculated combination of surveillance and physical violence. Beyond the walls of the prison resided British families, their children and their meals tended to by convicts.
Two decades after Indian Independence in 1969, the prison was converted into a national memorial and museum. In 2016 we traveled to the Cellular Jail to explore its history— a history that is twisted, but not alone. From the Ports of Gambia to the Bay of Guantanamo, colonial surveillance and exile have been embedded in infrastructure to inflict visceral violence. The field visit resulted in a body of work exploring relationships of gaze and violence and the entangled histories which now haunt these narratives.

©Anamika Singh