While the rest of India cheered and applauded as we scored our highest ever medal tally in the Olympics earlier this year, Sarnath Banerjee’s billboards about losers at the Games were splashed across the host city, London.
Now, the same work is on display in the city with a number of additions. Titled Barwa Khiladi, it’s designed as a campaign that — with billboards, posters, animation and newspaper articles — pays homage to guys who lost. From a hockey player facing a wall of bureaucrats sitting before the goal, to a boxer who spends his entire life dodging punches, there’s something on every sport.
“Honestly, I’m like the pizza delivery guy. My work entails meeting new people. The social fabric is my lab and these are characters I’ve acquired over time. Someone I met described this show as the ‘50 shades of my loss’ and that’s a great way to describe it,” says the artist. Banerjee insists he isn’t trying to give out a message; least of all a negative one. “It’s a mirror of our own living conditions. Everyone wants to be an achiever, but it can’t be your reason to live. I just wanted to complicate the argument by adding that a loser also has a place in life,” he explains.
Ask him if the works are all fictional and he says, “I follow a lot of different techniques. For one, there could be an anecdote from an obscure corner of history. Who knows who came sixth in 400m hurdles at the Los Angeles Olympics? I take that fact and then let my imagination take over and create something surreal.”
Barwa Khiladi — A Gallery Of Underachievers is on display at Project 88, Colaba till November 3.