The first thing most people would spot at the India Art Fair, currently underway in New Delhi, is a 38-feet long concrete wall, replete with pictures and illustrations from around the world.
Samar Jodha’s installation, titled Discord, consists of seven blocks that reflect the artist’s extensive work over two decades across the Middle East, Africa, China and parts of south Asia.
Seven blocks, weighing 250 kg of concrete, have been fabricated with imagery of conflict, which Jodha has studied and worked with extensively.
His inspirations are migrant workers in the Middle East, coal miners in Burma, Polish and Russian waitresses in London, and workers in oilrigs in Ghana, and at the 2010 CWG site in the Capital.
And just like his Bhopal: A Silent Picture, based on the Bhopal gas tragedy, which was displayed at the Kala Ghoda festival last year, Jodha plans to bring this massive installation to Mumbai.
“I won’t be able to make it to the festival, but if there’s space, I’d love to display it in the city. The whole process of moving it around is also very expensive,” he explains.
The artist, whose last display in the city was in 2011, is unsure of when he’ll be back. He puts it simply, saying,
“Most of my shows are ongoing. They aren’t structured in terms of beginning and end. That really helps. When you don’t have a purpose marked out, it’s better. And there’s no deadline.”
Jodha, acclaimed for the painstaking time, effort and thought he puts into his works, has created several talked-about pieces in the past too.
While the Bhopal installation, a silent film being played inside a 20-foot container, saw an overall footfall of approximately 95,000, his sculpture of a blood-covered tiger, marked with scanned handprints of real poachers from Ranthambore, was widely discussed too.
However, he insists his work is more about creative expression than trying to educate anyone “Art is a universal form of expression, and it’s very democratic. Anyone can be an artist and be creative. My work on public art is about larger issues, but I don’t know how many people will start thinking because of it. In the past few years, the response, however, has increased tremendously.”
Jodha also hopes the city will open up to public art in the months to come.
He says, “It’s definitely changed a lot. In the past few years, a lot of young artists have transformed the field. With technology coming in, there are a lot of mixed media, and display spaces beyond the conventional galleries. Anyone with an idea can take it to the next level.”