‘Where Did Alam Go?’


The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was enacted by the Government of India on 12 December 2019. It amends the Indian citizenship act to accept illegal migrants who are Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Parsi, Buddhist, and Christian from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and who entered India before 2014, following the religious persecutions. However the bill does not mention Muslims and other communities who fled from the same or other neighbouring countries. The bill would leave millions of Muslim immigrants, Indian muslims and poor Indians stateless that could lead them to detention. This has led to protests breaking out across the country. 

Artistic Inquiry

How can I address our policy makers and generate awareness of a social and political issue using an abstract art installation?


‘Where Did Alam Go?’ is an art exhibit inspired from a group of kids that belong to the Rohingya Muslim community and were lost to CAA. I visited them every day to teach them and provide breakfast. But one morning during March 2020, to my surprise I found their entire community had vanished leaving a barren land filled with just trash. 

Every class has a naughty kid and for my group it was Alam. He was an 14 year boy who had never been to school and supported his family by picking rag. It was difficult to get his attention but eventually he was the one who enjoyed the classes the most. The day of their disappearance has left me with one question that I want to address to our policy makers and our representatives- where did Alam go?

Movement and Behavior

The exhibit will include posters of Alam missing, an installation of a ballot box with a rejection system surrounded by dark space, and multiple hand cutouts protesting around it.

The ballot box with a rejection system-

  • The ballot box will be filled with balls(for now) of different colors representing different religions.
  • The balls representing the Muslim communities will be light weight balls/balloons that can lift up using fans on the sides/under the ballot box. 
  • A divider symbolic to CAA will spin on top of the ballot box using stepper motors.
  • The spinning divider will push the light weight jumping balls off the box into the surrounding dark space or onto the projections of detention centers in the surrounding area.

Protesting hands-

  • 2d hand cutouts made of wood will be attached to stepper motors in a way that they keep moving up and down making it look like they are protesting. 

Relation to Suitcase

Suitcase represents displacement which instantly made me relate it to Alam and his community being displaced. Converting the suitcase into a ballot box is aimed to address our representatives and the illusion of democracy that they create for us with the swinging black hand representing their calculative moves for personal gains.