Art Talk with Aarti Zaveri

While her work is ex­hib­ited at the UN­ESCO World Her­itage site, Mes­sel Pit, and the En­vi­ron­men­tal Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre Trea­sure Is­land Kühkopf, Ger­many, con­cep­tual artist Aarti Zaveri de­codes her art sen­si­bil­i­ties with So­ci­ety

Society - - MELANGE - | By RAHUL­PAUL|

Aarti Zaveri has had many na­tional and in­ter­na­tional art ex­hi­bi­tions fea­tur­ing in­stal­la­tions, sculp­tures, paint­ings, site-spe­cific art works and even video art. Aarti shares with us her lat­est project in Ger­many that she fin­ished be­fore meet­ing us. “Global No­madic Art Project Ger­many is a part of Ya­too, a Korean na­ture-art or­gan­i­sa­tion. Un­der this project, many in­ter­na­tional artists roam around in her­itage sites and amid na­ture to cre­ate some­thing from the ob­jects that are found in na­ture and van­ish in na­ture. They doc­u­ment the whole process, and it is later ex­hib­ited for peo­ple to see and un­der­stand,” she shares, even as she adds an anec­dote, “The di­rec­tor of Ya­too once told me that chil­dren in Korea didn’t know where toma­toes came from. They said su­per­mar­ket!” Talk­ing about her child­hood, she claims to have grown up as a tomboy in Ra­jkot, Gu­jarat. “It’s an in­dus­trial town now too, but at that time, lots of in­dus­tries were com­ing up. I have grown up and have also been run­ning away from there to places which have more na­ture, like Jam­na­gar and other parts of Gu­jarat. The ques­tion, ‘Is it nice to be in a me­chan­i­cal area or just na­ture,’ was al­ways in my mind. My soul was al­ways tak­ing me to na­ture and my mind to the place,” she shares. Grow­ing up around ma­chines, Aarti ob­served the re­la­tion­ship be­tween man and ma­chines, more uniquely than oth­ers. “There were lots of ma­chines around, which is nice for an artist. To make a thing with a ma­chine causes a lot of waste to be cre­ated and it was al­ways ly­ing around in the city. Those wastes were in dif­fer­ent shapes, like spi­ral, tri­an­gu­lar, etc, which al­ways at­tracted me.” The as­so­ci­a­tion didn’t come to her ini­tially though as she was just reg­is­ter­ing

every­thing in her sub­con­scious and was happy do­ing the con­ven­tional paint­ings and sketches, like a por­trait of Nehru and her par­ents, at the mere age of eight. But as she grew bet­ter at those, she wanted to do more ex­per­i­men­tal stuff. “At some point, you feel that some­thing should come up on your own, from within,” she says. That was the time ma­chines from her child­hood flashed back into her mind. She got into the Bar­oda School of Art to pur­sue her pas­sion but couldn’t go for per­sonal rea­sons. She con­tin­ued learn­ing art from her teach­ers or wher­ever she could. “Af­ter I got mar­ried and moved to Delhi, I worked for 10-12 years for the In­dian Army for all the Param Chakra and Kirti Chakra awardees. Then, my men­tor told me to put ‘Aarti’ on the can­vases be­cause when­ever I was do­ing a por­trait or a paint­ing, it was a tech­nique. So, my first ex­hi­bi­tion was called Pe­hchaan. It was about dif­fer­ent masks that peo­ple wear,” she says. Ap­prox­i­mately 35 paint­ings and a few in­stal­la­tions led to a very suc­cess­ful show in Delhi. Khush­want Singh de­scribed her work in one word, ‘pow­er­ful’. Aarti worked for three to four years and came up with her next ex­hi­bi­tion. “I just don’t jump into some­thing. I work se­ries-wise. A 10-12-paint­ing show takes around two and a half years to com­plete and then ar­rang­ing the show takes it to around three years,” she ex­plains. Aarti’s third se­ries— Time­less Mo­ments, was inau­gu­rated by Us­tad Am­jad Ali Khan and was a huge suc­cess. Aarti is also an ac­tive mem­ber of the Artist In Na­ture In­ter­na­tional Net­work (AININ). She re­cently com­pleted a Se­nior Fel­low­ship Re­search Project from the Govern­ment of In­dia. We ask if mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion or non­in­ter­pre­ta­tion of art hap­pens very of­ten. “Yes, it does,” she says and con­tin­ues, “Peo­ple some­times don’t un­der­stand my whole se­ries. It hap­pens. Some­times, it is so deep that they like it but don’t un­der­stand it and some­times it is so sim­ple yet dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand. At times, I do it on pur­pose to make my­self aware of the peo­ple.” So, what ex­actly does she try to achieve through her art, we ask. “Per­sonal sat­is­fac­tion is al­ways good. But, an artist can ac­tu­ally cre­ate aware­ness, and for me, that is an achieve­ment. It is an on­go­ing process and will hap­pen some­day,” Aarti be­lieves. Talk­ing about her next work, she re­veals, “I’ve got a schol­ar­ship from the Min­istry of Cul­ture to work on Ganga river. It is a twoyear schol­ar­ship but that’s too short a time to do re­search on Ganga. But, I’ve de­cided to do the re­search, on-site paint­ings and in­stal­la­tions, which I’ll put up at my fi­nal ex­hi­bi­tion at the end of this year or maybe next year.”

Mean­while, we asked her to ex­plain the idea be­hind some of her art­works: I) “This is an in­stal­la­tion of the time se­ries where there is a huge mask made out of fi­bre. The whole setup that I made was from found ob­jects welded to­gether and is called Dada Art in the art world, wherein you make every­thing from found ob­jects. There is a fig­ure of a baby on the one side, made out of ther­mo­col (Polystyrene), and you can see that an x-ray is com­ing out as the baby with just ma­chines parts. The idea be­hind it is to show that man is be­com­ing too me­chan­i­cal and for­get­ting about the true na­ture of mankind.” II) “This is from my Time­less Mo­ments ex­hi­bi­tion. The idea was to ask the ques­tion, ‘What is time?’ In your whole life, if you have lived a few good mo­ments, that’s your time rather than just those lived with­out know­ing what had hap­pened. This cir­cle is called the Zen cir­cle which is made with just one stroke rep­re­sent­ing a full cir­cle­like time. The other smaller cir­cles are con­stantly mov­ing

and rep­re­sent dif­fer­ent goals in life. There is a mo­tor at the bot­tom of the setup, and the man-shaped fig­ure is ro­tated through the cir­cle rep­re­sent­ing a man’s time as it passes on. Then, there is a part on the cir­cle that is cov­ered from the top which makes the place un­der­neath dark, rep­re­sent­ing the dark phases of life. Also, there is an­other fig­ure shaped like a man ly­ing mo­tion­less at the bot­tom im­ply­ing the im­mi­nent end.” III) “This was in Delhi again at the Nehru Sta­dium. It’s a pub­lic art which peo­ple in In­dia hardly know about. To­day, nei­ther the artists nor the peo­ple have the time to stop and watch art in a room. Pub­lic art is like mov­ing with you, and has a very strong way of en­gag­ing peo­ple. In In­dia, the con­cept is not yet de­vel­oped. Sculp­tures are there but not in­stal­la­tions. All around Europe, Ger­many and Amer­ica, they have pub­lic art, with which ei­ther you in­ter­act, or you just see it, and it stays in your mind. Com­ing back to this sculp­ture, it was about 20-feet long and was ex­hib­ited for about 10 days. I would tell all the view­ers to write their wishes and goals and also how much of it they have achieved till date on a foot- shaped cut-out which was put up. Af­ter the space in the foot print got over, they started writ­ing on pages from their di­aries and put them up. The spi­ral was made of al­loy and steel and was shaky. It was called spi­ral as­pi­ra­tions as I feel that our as­pi­ra­tions are not al­ways on a straight path, they keep mov­ing, go­ing up and down.” IV) “This is a cos­mic chant which was placed at a fair with too much noise around. They had told me to do some­thing that peo­ple might see, feel con­nected or com­pletely ig­nore. I kept some Bud­dhist chants around the spi­ral, which made a sound when the wind blew. Since it was in such a noisy place, peo­ple hardly lis­tened to it, which was the whole idea—to lis­ten to the in­ner voice.” Aarti also be­lieves that the fu­ture of art lies in video arts, which are ba­si­cally short videos shot by artists to con­vey a big­ger mes­sage. On a part­ing note, Aarti states that her most per­son­ally grat­i­fy­ing work is yet to come. Well, we can’t wait to see what it will be…

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