Reena Saini Kallat explores geopolitical relations in wires

  • Arundhati Chatterjee, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Sep 22, 2015 08:41 IST
Artist Reena Saini Kallat’s new show that recently opened in the city explores geopolitical relations using electrical cables and salt.

The last time contemporary artist Reena Saini Kallat put up an art installation in the city, she transformed the façade of Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Byculla (E), into a colossal cobweb made out of oversized rubber stamps. It was a spectacle. Her ongoing show — Kallat’s first solo exhibition in nearly seven years, called Hyphenated Lives — at Chemould Prescott Road, Fort, is no different. This time, she uses electric wires and salt to reflect on differing world views and coexistence of values.

Talking about the exhibition’s title, Saini says, "Hyphens are the glue that bind clauses together. However, in the show, it serves as more than just a linguistic device. The exhibition makes inquiries into our ideas of independence and interdependence, and the means we adopt to attain them, which are often self-destructive and can come at the cost of our own needs.'

Oak-Palm, 22x30, charcoal, ink and electric wire on fabriano paper.

The show heavily draws inspiration from the natural world, flora and fauna; it focuses on how nature shares our planet, binds countries and imbibes a sense of interdependence among them. The visual artist has been toying with these ideas for over a decade, but the genesis of the thought can be traced back to her 2010 installation, 2 Degrees — inspired by the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, 2009, and its conclusion that global temperatures should not rise above two degrees Celsius — which was displayed in Sydney, Australia.

Crested Cara-Gle, 47.5x31.5,, gouache, ink and electric wire.

"My long-standing interest in the relationships between countries that are politically partitioned, but historically related, was furthered with attention to natural resources, which are often the root cause of conflict between countries that have been divided. It has taken me a year-and-a-half to simply do the research and work towards my new show alone," explains Kallat.

De-On, 35x45, gouache, charcoal.

The exhibition displays around 10-12 different bodies of work, including three video installations, and some sculptures and prints. The drawings showcased are primarily in gouache and charcoal. But one of the primary and most interesting motifs, as well as mediums, used in these works is the electrical cable. "These conduits of contact that transmit ideas and information and bring people together, become painstakingly woven entanglements that morph into barbed wires, like barriers. They hold the inherent contradictions within the piece," she says.

Siamese Trees (2014), electric wires, metal ring, motion sensor, LED assembling rope light.

Reena is also exhibiting several photographic works, called Saline Notations. As the name suggests, for this series, salt has been employed as a medium to express ideas. "Salt helps explore the tenuous, yet intrinsic relationship between the [human] body and the oceans. It is an essential ingredient of sustenance... and is intimately linked with its capacity to preserve," she says.

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