Zuleikha Chaudhari’s Untitled Trilogy residency at Black Box Okhla continues with Public Rehearsal 3 set against the exhibition: Uprising of 1857. This public rehearsal focuses on the trial of Bahadur Shah Zafar.
In 1987, while the Uprising swirled in parts of India, the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was put on trial at his own imperial palace at the Red Fort in Delhi. The trial of Zafar paved the way for the colonial Indian Penal Code to be introduced in 1860 which has now been replaced by the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (Indian Justice Code), 2023.
Historically trials are staged events which employ dramaturgical elements and theatrical devices: they have their peculiar scenography, their scripts and roles assigned to each specific actor. However, political trials are political theatre which not only seek to have a legal impact but also an emotional one shaping the memory of the intended audience. The legal event of Bahadur Shah Zafar’s trial is, therefore, useful for thinking about the relationship between theater, law, politics and historiography.
The exhibit, Uprising of 1857 (on view from 2nd – 29th Feb), is based on Alkazi Collection of Photography’s publication by the same name edited by Rosie Llewellyn-Jones, 2017 (ACP and Mapin). The ‘sepoy revolt was among the first fully photogaphed wars in the history of documentary photography in India and the exhibition re-evaluates the ‘evidence’ and official reading of the Uprising.
A68 Okhla Industrial Area, Phase 2, New Delhi, Delhi 110020