The crab is a hugely symbolic animal — it stands for the zodiac sign Cancer; the Chinese believe it brings wealth and success; and then there’s ‘crab mentality’ for all those who live by ‘if I can’t have it, so can’t you’.
But for artist Kishore Chakravorty, the crab stands for terrorism, not just the overt violence of the 26/11 or 9/11 kind, but the feeling of inexpressible ‘terror’ that all of us have experienced at some point or other in our lives — the terror of ‘terrorism’, of violence, of rejection, or something as banal as darkness.
Which is why they feature in every one of the sculptures he is exhibiting at ‘We the people…’ at Gallery Threshold in Lado Sarai. All of them are called Terrorism: Inside Outside. These are huge crabs, fashioned out of straw and painted an angry scarlet, with the claws an industrial black with silver glints. They make a startling — and not very pretty — sight crawling out of a golden trunk or teeming all over a surface or swarming over the gallery wall.
Chakravorty, who is holding his first exhibition after his solo at the British Council five years ago which created a splash, also has a few of his photographic works on display. These are prettier works but less remarkable — black and white prints of photographs he has taken and then touched up with coloured ink.
There’s also a 19-minute video, The Landlord, a delightful cameo where Chakravorty wears a Chau dancer’s mark and plays with a plastic student’s globe to the beat of a dhak (drum) — quite like Chaplin’s playing with the globe sequence from The Great Dictator.