Vivan Sundaram's new art explores dystopia through sculptures

  • Arundhati Chatterjee, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Dec 08, 2014 17:02 IST

A few years ago, when Delhi-based artist Vivan Sundaram opened his unique art-meets-fashion show Gagawaka: Making Strange — a series of garments made out of everyday objects like surgical caps, X-Ray plates, plastic cups, sanitary napkins and so on — it raised eyebrows and led to some debate in the art world.

Postmortem — a sequel to the show, and its extension-of-sorts — is currently on display in the city. While the garments took centre stage in the earlier show, the mannequin is in the spotlight in this one.

Liberty, 2013; Sculpture and sound installation; Voice: Bettina Wenzel Duration: Six minutes and five seconds.

Talking about the new chapter, he says, "The idea struck me after Gagawaka. Postmortem has two distinct definitions — cutting up the body, and reassessment. Similarly, the garments have been stripped off the mannequins, and in a way, it’s a store room of rejected mannequins. On a contemporary level, the show poses questions about my previous work."

Figure in double skirt-2013.

The gallery bears a "pop-kitsch" look with life-sized sculptures peeping at you from various corners of the space. You may also be scared to suddenly find a mannequin hanging from the ceiling. Bearing shades of surrealism, Dadaism and psychoanalysis throughout, Sundaram’s work is not confined to any singular theme. The 72-year-old artist says, "My work plays out across multiple themes.

Surgical doll in black tights

The show is a reconstruction of fashion, and also peeps into medical science as it deconstructs the organs. On some levels, there’s a sense of sexuality, while on others, you will find humour and irony."

The ambitious project is going overseas next year. Elaborating on the plans, the artist says, "I will be taking both Gagawaka and Postmortem together to the Fowler Museum at UCLA in California, USA, in March. There will be around 80 life-sized sculptures."

At 72, Sundaram is an inspiration for many young and aspiring artists. Ask whether there’s someone who inspires him, and he says, "I look for inspiration all the time. I admire the radical work of the Bengali artist LateRam Kinker Baij and his work in Shantiniketan, West Bengal. My next project is a work of immersive theatre in collaboration with the National School of Drama, which will be my tribute to Baij."

Postmortem (After Gagawaka) is on display till January 10, at Chemould Prescott Road, Fort, from 11 am to 7 pm.

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