Countdown to AZADI (Freedom) – (2022)

‘All I want to know is: Was I right? Were they wrong? Will they eventually come round and see it, or are they so dumb that it will have to be their children or perhaps grandchildren who in 50 years time will realise that I was fairly reasonable and the people who thought I was wrong were the ones who were unreasonable.’ – Lord Mountbatten, ITN interview, 1969 

2022 marks 75 years since Indian Independence and Partition, which came after almost two centuries of British dominion. The consequences of Partition left an estimated 1-2 million dead, with 15 million displaced. Lord Mountbatten was the British official responsible for overseeing the transfer of power in 1947.  In the above quote he looks forward to a moment of vindication, but in 2021, the UK government backed Sewell report revealed how deeply misguided defences of Empire are in British society. Meanwhile, sectarian conflict persists in South Asia with politicians using religious ideologies to incite violence and enforce stricter border regimes. 

Countdown to Azadi (Freedom) depicts Mountbatten’s decision making table in 1947, where he is joined by some of the key Indian leaders. The image uses symbolism and metaphor to evoke a number of narratives, and multiple self-portraits to suggest that through consuming history we embody it. By considering the position and intention of the storyteller, along with our own biases as viewers, we can hopefully start to accept more nuanced and critical accounts of Empire. 

Using Format