Kashmir, situated between India and Pakistan, has been disputed territory since the countries gained independence from Britain in 1947. Ever since then, the inhabitants of Kashmir have felt cheated out of the possibility to determine their own destiny after centuries of foreign occupation. Despite resolutions in the United Nations recognizing and affirming their right, they are still waiting for a solution.
Meanwhile, the thumbscrews are being increasingly tightened by mass violations of human rights, forced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings, cases that have been ignored by courts in India for decades, with no hope of justice. In 2021 the organization Genocide Watch issued a warning that the country was on the verge of genocide.
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell serves as a window on an ecosystem of legal and military brutality orchestrated by the state. The use of pellet guns, a total communication blockade and unilateral suspension of constitutional autonomy are the latest in a series of repressive measures. In the ceiling of the exhibition, the chandelier is reminiscent of documents that have been ignored in Indian courts for decades without hope of justice. The photographs on the floor show relatives cherishing memories of missing loved ones.The X-ray portraits reveal countless lead bullets permanently enclosed in the victims’ bodies, deeper – if it were possible – than the collective memory of the oppression.
Anita Khemka, born in 1972, studied comparative literature and marketing in Delhi and Singapore before deciding to become a photographer in 1996. With her camera she has followed marginalized people, groups and communities and has exhibited her works all over the world. She lives with, and since 2017 has worked with, Imran B. Kokiloo, born in 1978, an Indian lens-based artist who grew up in Kashmir. . His first body of work produced in collaboration with Anita Khemka titled Pellet Identity was exhibited at FotoFest, Houston (2018) and a print from the series is now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. He has since continued to work on Kashmir, which he defines as his lifelong endeavour. This work was shortlisted for the Grand Prix Images Vevey, Switzerland (2019).