Exploring the fears and fantasies of the real world

  • Manjula Narayan
  • Updated: Nov 21, 2015 12:35 IST
Friend is Working by Mariam Suhail explores various mundane nightmare scenarios involving a friend immersed in work, errant wires, expensive computer equipment, and steaming coffee!

It takes a while to understand what Mariam Suhail’s trying to do in her Sweet Subjunctive show currently on at GallerySke, Connaught Place. But it slowly becomes apparent that, through a combination of text, photographs, music videos and sketches, the artist is attempting to ‘catch’ thought processes, fears and fantasies that flower in violently beautiful Venus flytrap fashion in every individual’s mind. They can’t be touched but, nevertheless, are as real as Dali’s velvet lip sofa or Subodh Gupta’s monumental vessel trees.

One work comprising a photograph of a shred of fabric, a delicately-executed series of sketches of a man wearing a shirt, and a somewhat deranged looking dog with the same shirt in its jaws, and an accompanying text frame that explains what could possibly have happened to a workman’s shirt that was found ripped up. In the world within that work of art that’s both vaguely disturbing and funny everyone concurs that a dog, whose droppings were spotted in the neighbourhood, was to blame.

Another work that plays with the idea of film memory, of nostalgia, of things lost in translation, features a video of Jaanaa, a song from Star (1982), in which Kumar Gaurav and Rati Agnihotri float through discotime, alongside an English translation of the lyrics. “Two gestures are juxtaposed: the translation of a love song and the bringing back of a video about the future, from the past,” says Suhail, adding that, for her, the story is also about the siblings Nazia and Zoheb Hasan, who sang the film’s songs, and Biddu, who composed them. “What Nazia and Zoheb meant to children growing up in the 80s... It’s the story within the story. What happened to Kumar Gaurav, Rati Agnihotri, Raj Kiran? What had we imagined then about the future, our futures?”

If Suhail is interested in rendering ‘real’ thoughts and emotions, Tara Kelton’s post-internet art featured in her Interior.lib (Fly-through) show, also at GallerySke, focuses on the intersection of the real and virtual worlds and what happens “beyond both, maybe, when they meet”. A new form produced by those who’ve spent their formative years on the internet and so produce art that, even if it isn’t done on a computer or visibly digital, is informed by the internet. “It’s the idea that we are forever changed so, even offline, that consciousness remains. That’s taken to art IRL ‘in the real world’,” says Kelton, whose work uses everything from Amazon’s crowd sourcing service to Blender, a 3D rendering software, and interior design walk-throughs executed by animators from CAD centres, to give the viewer a sudden aha! moment even if she grew up in a pre-internet world!

(Photo: Ravi Choudhary/HT )

(Photo: Ravi Choudhary/HT )

Of the above work, Tara says: “I’ve been interested in how objects translate from the virtual space to the real world. Here, I took one 3D model and applied every single effect in a 3D rendering software called Blender to generate visual forms.” (Photo: Ravi Choudhary/HT )

Taken together, Suhail and Kelton’s works give artistic form to different kinds of intangibles - the power of thought and memory in Suhail’s case and the collective ecosystem of the Internet world brain in Kelton’s. Both artists’ terrains push the viewer to question the idea of ‘reality’, to think of how real and virtual worlds are enmeshed, and leave her with a sense of having rounded an intellectual corner - a quality, surely, of the best art.

Mariam Suhail’s A Weaver has been Reweaving that explores the possible fate of a shirt that has been torn to shreds. (Photo: Ravi Choudhary/HT )

Light Source, a looped video projection by Tara Kelton. (Photo: Ravi Choudhary/HT )

Where: GallerySke, Connaught Place
When: Till January 9, 2016

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