“Shredded” is the title of the art installation done by local artist Krishna Luchoomun in Bristol, UK, last month. His work, with ‘papier maché’ dogs tied to a tree, represented the story of the people of the Chagos Archipelago who were exiled from their own homeland and whose dogs and pets were gassed to death to clean up the place after the inhabitants left.
Krishna Luchoomun, Mauritius' foremost visual and installation artist and head of the department of Painting at the School of Fine Arts at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute, was invited to be in residence from 12th to 19th October and was asked to produce an installation work on the theme of ‘Independence’ by the University of Bristol.
Hosted by BLACK* Artists on the Move and the Centre for Black Humanities, Krishna Luchoomun created a unique and mesmerizing installation entitled “Shredded” in honour of Mauritius' 50th Anniversary of Independence. The work was also commissioned by Black* Artists on the Move and the Centre for Black Humanities, University of Bristol.
The art installation represents one of the dark chapters of Mauritius as well as Britain’s history, which is the deportation of the people of the Chagos Archipelago from their motherland and their exile in Mauritius, Seychelles, Reunion and in the UK, in Crawley. Krishna Luchoomun decided to depict a specific event, which also marked that dark period.
The artwork, which was on display in the first instance in the Lord Mayors Parlour in City Hall in Bristol and then at the Cotham House, one of the University of Bristol’s main teaching buildings, is that of ‘papier maché’ dogs tied to a tree. The hanging dogs represent the method used at that time to cleanse the environment of the Chagos Archipelago after the inhabitants had been driven out of their land.
Indeed, in 1965, as part of a deal to grant Mauritian independence, the Chagos Archipelago was split off from the Colony so that Diego Garcia, the main island, could serve as a location for a United States military base. The inhabitants were forcibly evicted by the British government in the early 1970s. Food supply, among other obstructions, was cut off in order to pressurise them to leave. To frighten them, their dogs and pets were cruelly gassed to death.
“The dog and human forms are here metaphorically used to accentuate the cruelty with which the inhabitants were forced to leave their country of origin,” said Krishna Luchoomun. He added that “referring to the shredded work of Banksy, the balloon bearing the colors of the flag of the Chagos Islands, suggests a glimmer of hope as, alongside the Chagossians, Mauritius has legally fought before the International Court of Justice, for their resettlement on their homeland.”