A new publication chronicles the work of SAHMAT through essays and photographs

“Safdar Hashmi was an open-minded and humane personality with no prejudice against anyone. Over two decades ago, he was deliberately targeted by goons while performing a play on the outskirts of the Capital. He was grievously injured and died the next day. The fact that such a tragedy befell an actor and creative person made a large number of people join his funeral procession,” said Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust founder Ram Rahman at a function organised in the Capital on Wednesday to unveil a book titled “The Sahmat Collective: Art and Activism in India since 1989.”

Mr. Rahman said the spontaneous anger generated by Safdar’s murder grew into a resolve among artistes, writers and filmmakers to resist all forces which threaten freedom of expression.

He said: “We set up this independent organisation with a view to give artistes a platform to freely express their point of view without having to adhere to any political diktat. The Urdu or Hindustani meaning of SAHMAT is togetherness or being in agreement. Thankfully, we never had any negativism after Safdar’s killing. He was a person with a positive frame of mind. Somehow his positivity became the core spirit of the group.”

Mr. Rahman described the new publication as a beautifully illustrated book which has critical essays on art and texts on politics, society and artistic climate.

“As the book was published abroad it will be available at a cheaper cost. We did not have the funds to produce this book in India,” he said.

The book is in conjunction with a four-month-long exhibition at the University of Chicago. “To document the work of SAHMAT, which has straddled so many diverse fields, was a challenging task,” he said.

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