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A note on the issue: Pivot, preserve, or die?

Is it best to just let some memories, histories, practices and ideas die? Should we rewrite them or hold on to them?

Saju Kunhan, Veettukarodathe #5, 2021
Saju Kunhan, Veettukarodathe #5, 2021

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“My memory keeps getting in the way of your history,” writes Agha Shahid Ali in his poem, Farewell, which is the inspiration for an exhibition, Event, Memory, Metaphor, of work by eight artists about the idea of preservation and erasure. Is it best to just let some memories, histories, practices and ideas die? Should we rewrite them; should we hold on to them, refusing to be changed by time? Whether it is our review of this exhibition at the TARQ gallery, our takedown of the new Netflix version of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Nisha Susan’s column on the easy labels we have for women, or our cover story on private ownership of elephants, these are the questions that run through the articles in this issue.

Also read: Why we need to talk about captive elephants

Our critique of Persuasion, for instance, is categorical that certain storylines should not be meddled with, while a review of another exhibition on colonial art that tells the story of Tipu Sultan makes one think about who decides the plot and how that influences the way it is recounted and retold. 

For our cover story, we meet the people who own elephants, wild animals protected by law but not shielded from everyday cruelty while in captivity. Elephant ownership is a contentious and complex issue in India. Ownership and use of these large mammals ties into tradition and culture, and, at the same time, fuels an illegal trade while subjecting them to a life of physical and psychological stress.

Juggling competing points of view—though perhaps not views such as these—within one story is familiar to director Joe Russo, who, along with his brother Anthony, has made some of Hollywood’s biggest action films, like Avengers: Endgame, and successful shows like Arrested Development. Their latest, The Gray Man, which also stars Dhanush, released this week. Russo tells Lounge about bringing together different characters and ideas, his love for pop culture, and making movies that he and his brother love.

Each story in this issue provides different perspectives, and ideas for possible answers, to questions about memory, history and continuity.

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Also read: Bored, lonely and other words for women who think

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