Printing each next issue of Failed States is not inevitable. The journal very much does not make a profit. To keep afloat, we developed the Companionship initiative, reflecting the journal’s intention of facilitating cooperation and exchange. We rely on our ever-growing cohort of Companions to fund the production of each issue. To express our gratitude, every new Companion receives an exclusive poster made in collaboration with an artist who especially inspires us.

For the fourth issue, it is our honour to present Women Hold Up Half The Sky — a timely and compelling work by artist Jasleen Kaur.

Jasleen Kaur, Women Hold Up Half The Sky

In an altered archival photograph from 1936, members of the 15th Ludhiana Sikhs — an infantry regiment of the British Indian Army — perform an elaborate and physically challenging gymnastics display. Arranged precariously above a parade ground in Waziristan (part of modern-day Pakistan), the men balance on each other’s necks, heads and raised forearms in a spectacle at once exhilarating and unnerving.

In Kaur’s collaged reimagining of the scene, the repeated images of her mother’s hand disrupt an official narrative of  strength, endurance and military discipline. Like a divine intervention — or the uncloaking of invisible forces — the multiple hands support the soldiers above and below, their presence perhaps revealing the secret of this seemingly impossible stunt. 

Part of her ongoing exploration into postcolonial gender roles, Kaur has described ‘Women Hold Up Half The Sky’ as ‘a gesture towards her research into the invisibility of women’s voices and discovering non-masculine forms of resistance.’ 

The poster measures 594 x 420 mm (A2) and is printed on quality, 250gsm silk-coated paper.

About the artist

Jasleen Kaur (b.1986, Glasgow, Scotland) is an artist based in London. Her practice examines diasporic identity and hierarchies of history, both colonial and personal. She works with sculpture, video and writing. Recent and upcoming commissions include Wellcome Collection, UP Projects, Glasgow Women’s Library, Market Gallery, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Eastside Projects and Hollybush Gardens. Her work is part of the permanent collection of Touchstones Rochdale, Royal College of Art and Crafts Council. This current incarnation of ‘Women Hold Up Half The Sky’ has been adapted from a 2019 billboard commission for Spit & Sawdust, Cardiff. Permission for the use of the archival photograph was granted to the artist by the National Army Museum.

Companionship ∼ £40


  • your name added to the ongoing supporter roll printed in each issue of the journal*
  • the new issue of Failed States
  • our exclusive Jasleen Kaur poster
  • invitations to our events

* cutoff for issue no.4 is 31 January 2021.

Previous Companion posters

For our first Failed States supporter gift, we were delighted to offer an original poster featuring artwork by Prem Sahib. The photograph of London’s recently closed gay sauna, Chariots Waterloo, was taken from Prem’s contribution to issue no.3: refuge.