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Tuesday, Sep 17, 2019

Hybrid sculptery

Bharti Kher brings to the forefront a hybrid reality of Matrix trilogy.

india Updated: Apr 28, 2006 20:40 IST
Gitanjali Dang (HT Style)
Gitanjali Dang (HT Style)

Bharti Kher’s All sheep are not the same, that presents the viewer with disciplined rows of many coloured bindis, is reminiscent of Digital Rain or Green Rain that functions as a fictional source code in The Matrix trilogy.

From this initial whimsical hypothesis it is not a gargantuan but a well directioned leap toward the French theorist Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation.

In Baudrillard’s 1983 philosophical treatise, the bedrock on which the world of The Matrix was in part constructed, he states that our society has replaced reality and meaning with symbols and signs and that in fact all we know as real is actually a simulation of reality.                                                            

Kher stands alongside her sculptural innovation Arione's sister at Project 88

It is in such a post-modern reality that Kher inserts her eloquently constructed hybrid reality. About Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons because you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup, her first solo exhibition in the city in five years Kher says, “The title is basically a warning. What interests me most is that though the title suggests a magical, a mythical world, the very same world is an analogue to the contemporary.

Hence when you see the work you get the feeling that though you know it you don’t know it completely. It is a mixture between menace and humour, a hybrid. And what is the dragon if not a hybrid, it is part lizard and part bird and these creatures really exist or are they just fable?

Ketchup again renders the works contemporary and with crunchy I want to suggest the fallibility of the human race.” A clandestine encounter between the mythic and a simulation of reality reveals mixed media sculptures like The Wise One, which depicts a life-size ape, and Or the greatest Indian rope trick, which shows a languid necked giraffe.

Kher has informed both the sculptures with anthropomorphic qualities. The ape is adorned with chunky rings and the giraffe with a suicidal noose. Discussing Or the greatest Indian rope trick Kher says, “In our country the fan is sadly a cultural symbol of sorts. Show any individual a fan in isolation and it won’t be long before they link it to the macabre. Someone I know recently committed suicide so the work by way of irony directs ire at the idea of suicide.”

With All sheep are not the same and Mother of anything possible, anytime the artist one can suggest has subverted Baudrillard’s paradigm. So although the mass-produced vinyl bindi, in Baudrillard’s parlance, is just a simulation of feminity.

In Kher’s world it is a simulation of the feminine empowered. She explains “I first worked with the bindis in perhaps 1997 or 1998.

They have a strong conceptual underpinning. Each day millions of women in this country perform this simple act of putting the bindi on their forehead.

This simple action can be seen as one of empowerment, it is almost as though they are putting on their third eye".

“I do not want to put full stops at the end of my works,” concludes the artist. Kher by way of her recent works comments on a a range of subjects, from decadence to consumerism, and manages to fuse them together to create one coherent whole.

Bharti Kher’s Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons because you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup at Project 88, BMP building, ground fl, Colaba till May 30. 10.30 am - 6.30 pm.

Mondays 2 pm - 6.30 pm.

First Published: Apr 28, 2006 18:38 IST