COMPRISING various objects, videos and films such as Amar Kanwar’s ‘Such a Morning’ and New York-based Shezad Dawood’s virtual reality ‘Kalimpong’, the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art’s ongoing exhibition—‘Delirium//Equilibrium’—is a testimony to the richness of the collection and the patronage the museum provides to artists. Curated by museum director Roobina Karode, the show cuts across geography and chronology to present “a unique selection of interdisciplinary explorations of movement through images, sculptural forms and installations”, say the organisers.
Spread over the museum’s entire 34,000 sq. ft and encompassing several full-length films, the show demands more than one visit to do it justice. It features works by Aliya Syed, Amar Kanwar, Mithu Sen, Kaushik Mukhopadhyay, Nalini Malani, Neha Choksi, Nandita Kumar, Naeem Mohaimen, Ranbir Kaleka, Shahzia Sikander, Sheba Chhachhi, Shezad Dawood, Sonia Khurana,
Sudarshan Shetty, Vibha Galhotra and
The pieces range from 1969 to 2017. Many of them are being seen in India for the first time.
Entering the museum, one encounters Kaushik Mukhopadhyay’s ‘Small, Medium but not Large’ (2010-2016), a kinetic installation that drives home how ubiquitous technology has become and how swiftly it becomes outdated. It features electrical components such as defunct photocopy machines, bakelite telephone instruments, hand blenders, DVDs, old ‘brick’ style mobile phones, remote controls, food blenders and computer monitors. Laid across three tables and bundled into a tall shelf, the detritus comes to life, with objects whirring and the telephone ringing.
For many, the highlight of the exhibition may be ‘Kalimpong’, New Yorkbased Shezad Dawood’s virtual reality environment. To experience this work, the viewer ‘enters’ an imaginary place that is created by layering historical narratives from the 1920s to the 1960s and Dawood’s own sense of wonder at the exploratory expeditions that marked the early decades of the 21st century. Kalimpong is a motif for rich material exchanges, the site of esoteric mysticism and the place of legends such as the Yeti.
Among several video works is ‘Two Meetings and a Funeral’, an 85-minute multi-channel video installation by Turner Prize nominee Naeem Mohaimen, a North America-based Bangladeshi artist. Co-commissioned by Documenta 14—the 2017 iteration of the art show held once every five years—it uses the 1973 Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Algeria and the 1974 Organisation of Islamic Countries meeting in Pakistan to explore why the Third World countries never managed to unite. Also screened at Documenta 14 was Amar Kanwar’s
‘Such a Morning’, a fictional film shot in the Northeast that traces the journey of a mathematician who grapples with his gradual blindness. The film addresses existential questions crucial in the current political climate.
Legendary South African artist William Kentridge’s multiple animation video installation ‘I am not me, the horse is not mine’ (2008) draws upon Dmitry Shostakovich’s satirical opera ‘The Nose’ (1928) and a short story by Nikolai Gogol written in 1837. The title of the work alludes to a Russian saying that denies guilt and is from a transcript of the plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
The eight animations look at Russian formalism in visual arts and film in the 1920s and 1930s, and the Stalinist destruction of the Russian avant garde.
The show presents a unique selection of images and installations
Aliya Syed explores the idea of loss, albeit from the perspective of a diasporic immigrant moving between Pakistan and the UK. Shot on a 16 mm film, ‘Eating Grass’ (2003), along with Shazia Sikander’s ‘Parallax’ (2013) which is an HD video animation of painted images, underscore the technologies of making the moving image and the materiality of film and video that are an intrinsic part of the works.
Three films (16 mm) made by Nalini Malani during the Vision Exchange Workshop set up by Akbar Padamsee in a flat in Bombay, where artists experimented with film, editing, etching and photography, are installed on three adjacent walls. Titled ‘Still Life’ (1969), ‘Taboo’ (1973) and ‘Onanism’ (1969), they are each less than five minutes long. Malani’s vision of the world remains striking as she documents a weaver in rural India (‘Taboo’), urban life through domestic architecture and objects (‘Still Life’) and female angst through a restless, sleepless body (‘Onanism’). Other notable works include Neha Choksi’s ‘Iceboat’ and Ranbir Kaleka’s ‘Forest’ (2009).
KALIMPONG A frame from Shezad Dawood’s virtual reality installation
ARTISTS AT WORK