An exhibition of more than thirty works in various media like videos, digital prints, watercolours, drawings, photographs and paintings “on the concept of recycling”. 

April 22, 2009 to April 30, 2009

Travancore Art Gallery, Travancore Palace 
Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi

The exhibition will also include recycled objects (paper bags, folders, jute bags etc.) made by Tihar inmates and a part of the proceeds from the exhibition will be given to them.

Curated by Bhavna Kakar, the show includes works by Justin Ponmany, Chitra Ganesh, Chittrovanu Majumdar, TV Santhosh, Tushar Joag, Atul Bhalla, Rajan Krishnan, Prajakta Potnis, Manjunath Kamath, Rajesh Ram, Prajjwal  Choudhury, Vivek Vilasini, Prajakta Palav, Ravi Agarwal, Mansi Bhatt, Sharmila Samant, Bhagyanath C, and Sajjad Ahmed.

Says Bhavna Kakar, Director, Latitude 28 and curator of the show: “This exhibition propagates not only the recycling of material things but also the recycling of cultural & spiritual values, human memories, emotions, existence and even sexuality. It is an attempt to analyze and document artistic imaginations and representations of recycling.”

For instance Sharmila Samant will display a saree installation and the photographs of installations made from Coke and Diet Coke bottle tops. Through her works, the artist interrogates the effects of globalisation on the cultural economy of India. The saree and Coca-Cola, both transcend boundaries geographically as well as culturally within India. The saree cuts across social, economic and religious mappings, while Coca-Cola remains in India an elitist product. Says the artist: “By using the different coloured Coca-Cola crowns I could create the various aspects of the saree like palluborder and motifs. The saree took me four months; the process was performative, from collecting crowns from bars around where I lived in Amsterdam to sorting, washing and then drying them.” 

Similarly, another series of photographs would be showcased by Ravi Agarwal whose pictures titled Passage Rites are based on the concept of rebirth. He says: “Recycling implies a transformation at the ‘end-of-life’ whether of objects or of living beings. However, there may be no beginning and no end-of-life.  The beginning and the end exist only in human perception. Each moment, itself without beginning or end, is only a continuum in time, in eternity. As I pass from this world to another, through cremation rites, these become symbols of my ongoing journey.  The cremation ghat is the place I rediscover myself.”

Atul Bhalla’s photograph titled Dhaula Kuan is yet another very interesting and dramatic compilation of shots of Delhi’s slum people trying to find a solution to their water woes.

If Atul Bhalla and Ravi Agarawal choose photography for conveying their message, then Bhagyanath C, Rajesh Ram, Rajan Krishnan and T V Santhosh opt to paint to highlight the concept of recycling. Rajan Krishnan’spaintings titled Reconnection are generated from the process of recycling of memories. Each work arbitrates the individual ability to recollect and reconnect, with geographically marked or defined, time and space. Each work is a frame of reference, a juxtaposition of known and unknown, distance and closeness, of natural and human-made, but placed between remembrance and oblivion. Explains the artist: “Every mark seen in the present is a memoir of the past. Every moment one is engaged in a process of recycling memory in order to connect and identify with the world around. The loss of memories is equal to the loss of the self, of the essential core of being. Hence, the ability to recollect becomes critical, both for the individual, and for a society.” But contrary to the idea of human emotions are T V Santhosh’s watercolours which deal with images resulting from re-using a series of clarifications and deliberations. His imagery is driven impassively, he even calls them ‘rational paintings’ and not expressive of the personal state of mind.

Moving on to the genre of installations, Prajjwal Choudhury makes a concrete mixer with matchboxes. The mixer looks similar to those used at construction sites. He says: “There will be 2000 match boxes placed inside the mixer which will be falling on a moving steel plate. All the match boxes will be accumulated together and once the mixer is empty they will put back into the mixer by vacuum process so the process of recycling begins.” On the other hand, Prajakta Potnis installation consist decaying objects like dustbin with sediment of mustard seeds in a fungus-like formation. Clinical and voyeuristic, her oeuvre truly exposes the contemporary urban physical and psychological landscape where almost everything that exists is oozing decay and death but paradoxically suggesting a new revival rather than permanent disappearance. She seems to have stepped into the role of a curios kitchen scientist, when she decks up these mundane objects with ephemeral materials like bubbly pearls and mustard seeds and turns them into fantastical tools that force the viewers to reconsider the materiality of the objects and their metaphorical associations.  

While, Justin Ponmany’s work comprises of swastika motif recycled in video and fibre sculpture, Artist Chitra Ganesh explores in her digital collages the concept through the medium of digital printing. She pairs text with images to uncover the social and historical exploitation of Indian female sexuality. In her work titled Under the Bed (from Tales of Amnesia), the semi-naked, sari draped Indian female torso is fetishized by the onlookers. The dismembered writhing along with the innovative speech of the traditional Amar Chitra Katha figures that the artist uses is certainly an effective way of recycling historically established and reinforced beliefs. Using the similar medium of Digital Printing is artist Sajjad Ahmed’s work titled Nuclear Day-dream and The Lonely Astronaut. Explains the artist: “Events, species, geography, individuals, religion, philosophy, economics, everything is constantly in a circle, which has a common key point to start and end. All our lives, we keep on re-inventing that point. Be it a naïve infant turning in to a sophisticated astronaut or a bedside lamp sharing its visual structure with that of a nuclear mushroom cloud, the start and end point is shared as one. That’s where the life breathes.” Artist Tushar Joag’s work titled Crawford Market is another noteworthy digital print inspired from Crawford Market of South Mumbai. Says the artist: “The Crawford Market which is also a heritage site is on the anvil for reconstruction. The redevelopment of the market has been mired in controversy in the recent past. I will use the architectural elements from the market to create a recycling machine that produces packaged real estate.”

Chittrovanu Majumdar creates his installation titled “Ice Cream Factory Chill Tubes And A Love Song”…where refrigeration coils of a small-scale ice cream factory become columns of air through which sound is transported, to end in a bell of brass instruments as an acoustical coupling.

The love song, a popular song from an Indian film Love in Tokyo (1966) plays from the installation. This song like many others is played during religious processions by local bands on the streets of Kolkata. Interpreted with a very local approach – with dissonances, broken structures and changes in pitch, timber and dynamic levels, it becomes another genre of music.

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Ravi Agarwal