Oklahoma Contemporary

HOME1947: Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy

HOME1947: Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy

Feb. 22-July 22, 2024
Eleanor Kirkpatrick Main Gallery

HOME1947: Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy explores the lives and stories of the millions displaced in 1947 during the creation of two new independent nation-states, India and Pakistan. The installation crafts visual memories through a series of short documentary and narrative films, virtual reality, photographs and oral histories, objects and archival documents, and sound installations–recreating the long-lost sights, sounds, and smells of what millions once called home.

Three black-and-white photographs: A woman with curled hair wearing a button-up shirt (top), a woman wearing a draped garment writing at a table (middle) and a woman reading to a child (bottom)

Details, HOME1947: Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy

Born in Karachi, Pakistani Canadian filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy recalls grasping the human dimension of a painful historical chapter through her grandparents' stories "about childhood homes they left behind, the smell of the earth when it rained, the fragrance of jasmine in the spring, the friendships they longed to rekindle, the mango trees under which they played." Recreating the feelings of loss and longing, Obaid Chinoy states, "HOME1947 is my ode to that generation."

Initially commissioned for showcase at the Manchester International Festival in 2017 to mark the 70th anniversary of the Partition, the exhibition subsequently toured to Lahore and Karachi. The Guardian described the exhibition in 2017 as “an uncompromising look at lives wrecked by the Partition.” In 2007, ten years before creating HOME1947, Obaid Chinoy helped form The Citizens Archive of Pakistan to initiate the compilation of oral histories on the Partition. She has updated the exhibition for its North American debut at Oklahoma Contemporary with two additional films she is directing and producing through her Karachi-based studio SOC Films and with additional material she is selecting with Noor Ahmed of The Citizens Archive of Pakistan.

Renowned for her award-winning documentary filmmaking, Obaid Chinoy’s first film, Terror’s Children (2002), featured the stories of Afghan refugee children on the streets of Karachi, offering a lens on the collateral damage on lives largely overlooked in post-9/11 analyses. While HOME1947 clearly has historical specificity that would resonate with the diasporic South Asian community in the region, the feelings that it evokes also strike a universal chord in a place steeped in stories of displacement that dovetail with what it takes to create a new home–from Oklahoma being a final destination of the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma City opening itself to refugees during and after the Vietnam War and its present efforts toward the settlement of new Afghan neighbors.

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy creates a framework that amplifies the shared human experience rather than the justifications for polarization on either side of the evisceration created by historical forces. Sharing stories of a generation, she asks questions, “How did it feel that, when you left your home, it not only stopped being your home, but became part of an enemy country? You read the textbooks, you see the news reports or watch archival footage, but everything is from the political point of view. What about the lives they left? The conversations they never finished? The scent of jasmine outside their bedroom window?”

HOME1947: Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy recreates a historical chapter to create a space that not only honors memories but also offers an immersive medium through which viewers can measure the accumulating weight of the past in considering the conflicts in the present moment.

HOME1947 Programs

Feb. 22 | In Conversation: Noor Ahmed and Sameer Khan, moderated by Dr. Nyla Ali Khan
March 28 | Community Conversation: Across the Table

About the artist

A woman in a white shirt and red lipstick smiles with her lips closed

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy (born 1978, in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan) is the recipient of two Academy Awards, seven Emmy Awards, a Knight International Journalism Award, a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the Eliasson Global Leadership Prize. In 2012, the Government of Pakistan honored her with the Hilal-i-Imtiaz, the second highest civilian honor of the country. In 2017, Obaid Chinoy became the first artist to co-chair the World Economic Forum. Obaid Chinoy directed two episodes of Ms. Marvel and is slated to co-direct Reggae Girlz with Trish Dalton and to helm the next Star Wars film.

The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

A woman in a white shirt stands in front of a colorful background

Noor Ahmed is the General Manager of The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP), dedicated to cultural and historical preservation in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad, with wide outreach across Pakistan. Among the most comprehensive digital archives on the Partition of India, CAP has extensively recorded personal testimonies of the generation that underwent the largest mass migration in recorded history through its Oral History Project. Ahmed was part of the curatorial team for the award-winning Pakistan Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020. Her writing on contemporary art and culture has appeared in local and international publications.

HOME1947: Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy presented by:

OH Spot Color Logo

This exhibition is funded in part by Oklahoma Humanities (OH) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily represent those of OH or NEH.

Additional funding is provided by George Records, The Kanady Family, Leslie and Cliff Hudson, E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation, the Chickasaw Nation, Allied Arts, Velocigo, Annie Bohanon, Visit OKC, the Tyler Family, Dr. and Mrs. Humayun J. Chaudhry, and Julie and Mark Beffort.

Explore the HOME1947 Reading List here
Read recent press here


Video still, Beila, 2017. © Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy. Photo courtesy of SOC Films.

Installation views of HOME1947: Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy. © Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy. Photos by Ann Sherman.

Details, HOME1947: Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy. © Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy. Photos courtesy of SOC Films.

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy. Photo by Bina Khan.

Noor Ahmed. Photo courtesy of The Citizens Archive of Pakistan.

Oklahoma Humanities logo. Provided by Oklahoma Humanities.


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