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In a Mumbai gallery, a sci-fi journey from Hyderabad to Montreal

Amshu Chukki’s debut solo exhibition at Chatterjee & Lal has video, memories, fantasy and a whole lot of rocks.

mumbai Updated: Dec 16, 2017 15:12 IST
Jayati Bhola
Jayati Bhola
Hindustan Times
Exhibition,Chatterjee & Lal,Art
Artist Amshu Chukki’s work includes fascinating landscape of rocks, much like the kind you’ll find along the Deccan Plateau, and on the walls are his gorgeous charcoal drawings of stills from the videos. (Chatterjee & Lal)
The Tour, an exhibition by Amshu Chukki
  • WHERE: Chatterjee & Lal, Colaba
  • WHEN: November 9 until December 23
  • TIMINGS: 11am to 7pm, Tuesday to Saturday
  • Entry is free

If a tour guide told you that aliens invaded a film city 30 years ago, would you believe it? Bangalore-based artist, Amshu Chukki’s solo debut, The Tour, certainly makes it seem possible.

Chukki’s work includes a two-channel video, The Tour, that takes you on a literal journey through the Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad, narrated by Nagarjuna Ganji – who’s been a guide there for decades. Another video, The Mountain, Les Invisibles, was shot at the site of the Montreal Biodome, originally used for the 1976 Olympics, but is now an indoor zoo. On the gallery’s floor is a landscape of rocks, much like the kind you’ll find along the Deccan Plateau, and on the walls are his gorgeous charcoal drawings of stills from the video.

The work takes on from a science-fiction genre; there’s almost a Utopian feel to the spaces in the videos. Nagarjuna’s artificial town is devoid of humans, it’s just streets, towers and fake airports – with an almost eerie tension that keeps mounting up for the viewer. The voices in the videos narrate imaginative yet bizarre stories of an alien invasion in 2036 or of species that inhabits a man-made biosphere.

Chukki’s work includes two-video channels featuring voices that narrate imaginative stories of an alien invasion in 2036 or of species that inhabits a man-made biosphere. (Chatterjee & Lal)

“I try to tap into fiction that originates from both the sites and the people (the staff) engaged with the sites,” Chukki says.

The Mountain opens with a lush green scene – birds chirping, penguins playing and even an underground cave. But it’s all staged in a controlled environment, says Chukki.

“The idea was to interview people who work there. I started asking them what sort of a landscape they would imagine if that space was in a sci-fi film,” Chukki says. The employees drew on their own imaginations, nothing was scripted.

Mortimer Chatterjee, co-owner of Chatterjee & Lal believes Chukki’s work is at an interesting intersection of fiction and reality. “Amshu, through his work, is giving the control to the viewer and how we experience the work,” he said. “Artists tend to be autonomous about their work; Amshu’s work is risky and brave.”

First Published: Dec 15, 2017 22:20 IST