In this work, Nalini Malani crafts an unsettling portrait of human conflict. She layers imagery over a world map, with strange figures and violent encounters drawn and erased, and looped images and scrolling text projected onto human bodies. A voiceover featuring a polyphony of women’s voices reflects on the horrors of war. The words are spoken from the perspective of Cassandra, the tragic figure in Greek mythology who foretold the costs of the destructive Graeco-Trojan War, but was cursed to have her prophecies go unheeded.
Malani created In Search of Vanished Blood as part of an immersive installation, continuing her long exploration of the trauma women experience in myth, history, and contemporary culture. Incorporating a dizzying blend of literary and visual references, the work takes its title from a 1965 Urdu poem by Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz. The fragmented narrative is influenced by German writer Christa Wolf’s 1984 novel Cassandra, while Malani’s visual sources include Francisco Goya, Hindu mythology, and sign language. She makes these cross-cultural juxtapositions to offer a universal warning about humanity’s self-destructive impulses.
Nalini Malani (b.1946, British India) is a pioneer in video art. Her family’s experience of displacement during the 1947 Partition of India strongly influenced her early life and her later activism. Over her long and prolific career spanning film, installation, and painting, she has continually examined the ways political conflicts and social structures affect women and other marginalised communities.