TENT OF DARIUS (INSTALLATION 2009)
(AFTER LE BRUN’S TENT OF DARIUS)
Medium: 5 embroidered vintage European army coats with painting (19”X23” acrylic on canvas on board)
I imagined these five coats to have travelled all over the world, with women having contributed to them by adding a piece of embroidery. They are like these tired, old worn out soldiers who have dreamt of coming back home.
On the one hand, they symbolize the imperial power, but on the other hand, there is another aspect to this work; how soldiers from the colonies were made to fight for the Imperial powers. It’s true for any army including the Pakistan army, where most soldiers are from Jehlum, Potowar region, from poor, lower middle-class families and end up with the army because of their physique/tradition, in the hope of making a romantic/glamorous career. This work, compares the romance/glamor to the actual reality of war, the aim of it and the beneficiaries of it. I juxtapose the embroidered coats with an ‘Oriental’ painting called The Tent of Darius, a seventeenth-century painting by Charles Le Brun that provides the title for the installation. In it, the Queen of Persia bows to Alexander the Great who has conquered the land. It serves as a metaphor for the West making incisions in the East.