The relationship between clay and electricity is a central concern of my work. Applied to these two constants is a third factor suggested by a domestic appliance, an event or a specific location.The process of transformation is an intrinsic part of the work. Visible firings have taken place in galleries, a laboratory, a living room and a cafe.
The work's initial audience are those present at the venue. The event is recorded and presented to a secondary audience as a short film or animation, often shown alongside the residue of the original event.
I use the electrical resistance colour coding system to denote the period when work was made or to mark significant dates.
My father and brother are trained electricians. They provided practical assistance in realizing the projects. The research and production of work has also involved the Electrical Engineering departments at Imperial College, London and Aston University, Birmingham. These institutions have provided technical support and a venue for work.
During the KHOJ residency I have worked on two main projects.
The first 'family nan' involves the firing of the bread made to the same dimensions as the chatai found in the studio on arrival here.
The second project, '100 Bulbs for 100 People' is a site-specific work in which a bulb is chosen as a gift to be installed in the owner's house. It is asked that one photograph be taken of the bulb in situ and sent to me in England.
I am a theatre director and a lighting designer. This is my first attempt at a light installation. I have deliberately made an attempt not to use theatre light equipment, i.e. equipment that I am familiar with.
I have tried to put together actual light sources - tube lights - with projected light sources - images of tube lights which I photographed in shops at Loknayak Bhavan, Khan Market.
I have tried to create / articulate a space and to give the space depth, or at least the illusion of depth. I have been using light bulbs of differing shapes, sizes and intensities in my last couple of projects and wanted to take that further by creating a piece with light bulbs.The project is based on the text below, which is a section from Heiner Muller's prose text – ‘The Father’.
‘The last time I saw him in an isolation ward in a hospital in Charlottenburg. I took the local train to Charlottenburg, walked past ruins and tree trunks down a wide street; in the hospital I was led through a long bright corridor to the glass door of the isolation ward. The bell was rung. A nurse appeared behind the glass, nodded in silence when I asked for my father, strode down the corridor and disappeared into one of the end rooms. Then my father came out. He looked small in striped pyjamas that were too big for him. His slippers slapped along the stone tiles. We stood there, glass between us, and looked at each other. His gaunt face was pale. We had to talk in a loud voice. He rattled at the locked door and called the nurse. She arrived, shook her head and left. His arms sunk and he looked at me through the glass in silence. I heard a child crying in one of the rooms. As I left I saw him standing behind the glass door waving. In the light that fell through the big old window at the end of the corridor he looked old. The train sped past ruins and building sites. Outside there was the iron-grey daylight of October.’
The Game Table is a game about connecting four. It is reminiscent of computer virtual games or home-based games. Its interactivity builds a dialogue between two friends and creates their own space.
The Game Table creates a sense of place with a specific functionality. Once two friends strategically place their blue and white blocks on top of the table the infinite possible permutations become apparent. For me this reflects the same infinite permutations of possible friendship available to us.
By connecting four, the Game Table reflects the way we move and connect or link with the world, people and things. The table, which is usually a communal discussion zone, becomes a competitive space, but between two friends it is less about who wins and more about sharing time together. And each time it creates a new space.
I believe in creating objects in my own personal way, which often carries humour and joy within them, alongside the attraction of surface and a sense of ambiguity. My objects refer to simple processes: life, renewal, and a continuous chain of events without end.
I played the Game Table with Class 5 students from a Delhi based public school and enjoyed the event. The children were asked to choose their best friends in the class and after choosing their favourite coloured markers they played a game together. At the end they exchanged markers as an act of friendship. With the students I also sought to share common information through the computer symbols. Together they compared their understanding of these symbols. They really enjoyed the activities.
In the studio, I worked with the students' favourite colours to create 40 coloured squares. Here they are presented to illustrate the permutations of their friendships. They also work to highlight the architectural connection of the space.
Connect Four: A game for two friends
How to play?
The object of game is to align 4 pieces in a row: vertically, diagonally or horizontally.Rules:
- Each player chooses either white or blue blocks and places only one per move.
- Blocks cannot be stacked on top of each other.
- Blocks should be strategically placed from the base upwards
It is true that modernism has produced many ideologies and philosophies but none of them have been as successful as religion. On the other hand, religion is becoming an increasingly dangerous weapon in the games of political power, particularly in my country and across the sub continent. I have to live with the crime and violence and I wish to approach my art practice by addressing this reality.
When I visited the Khirkee Masjid, a piece of beautiful architecture, I was impressed by its structure. I wanted to work inside this ancient construct but eventually had to abandon this plan because getting permission was too complicated. So I decided to bring this architectural splendour into my studio. This idea recalled my childhood memory of photography studios, where the walls were painted with fantastic landscapes. Through this painting I have recreated the old studio and united it with my memories.In the studio of memory there were opportunities to dress-up in colonial-style costumes, so I presented some new costumes that relate to the burkha and nikabh.
I have also decorated this space with some objects, which are a combination of ready made, and hand made. My idea is decoding the imposed meaning of the objects and transforming them so they carry multiple meanings.
A walking study of the periphery of the constituency of Malviya Nagar.
For several years I have explored the idea of ‘human value’ through a series of artworks based on charts, statistics, and maps. On arrival in Delhi early last month, the newspapers were filled with articles about the forthcoming state assembly elections. This provoked thoughts on the connection between the process of democracy and the relative value of humans in society. Given that a requirement to vote includes having an address, it seemed a considerable part of the community was disenfranchised from the process given their lack of a permanent address.
People living in unregistered housing on the sides of roads, on the roofs of buildings and on vacant land are uncharted, uncounted and unmapped. In response to this my project began as an attempt to map the temporary housing on the outskirts of the constituency of Malviya Nagar. As charting, counting and mapping are all acts of validation, my intention to map the unmapped was well meaning but inevitably tokenistic and futile. Realizing this, I took to mapping all the things that particularly took my notice. This act of charting substantiated not only the temporary housing but also other everyday sights – wandering cows, urinating men, working elephants and vendors of all sorts.
What I came to realise was that, for several reasons, there was actually no way of establishing definitive statistics on people in India. To begin with, for people to be counted in a census, they need to have an address and with so many people living in unregistered, untypical, address-less accommodation it is impossible to get an accurate understanding not only of the number of people in the country, but of other assessments as well such as their literacy level, their living conditions, their employment and so on. This condition of being uncounted was made more profound for me in the first four weeks of the residency, which was the lead up to a state election. Without an address, a person couldn’t vote, leaving what seemed like millions to me not only uncounted, but also disenfranchised.
In addition to having an uncounted population, Delhi has unrecognised or ‘illegal’ settlements commonly referred to as ‘urban villages’. These are agricultural areas rapidly settled and urbanised by migrants in the post-Partition period. Their status as agricultural land hasn’t officially changed meaning roads remain unpaved and the threat of government sponsored demolition is permanently present. KHOJ is in an urban village. The representation of urban villages in the main street directory of Delhi is irregular and haphazard and markedly different from the representation of legal suburbs, which is very orderly and controlled.
These few conditions inspired me to take a walk around the constituency of Malviya Nagar – Khirkee’s constituency, and to map, or validate, the things I saw. The action was unexpectedly difficult with so much visual stimulation and a little scary at times but overall wonderfully enlightening. The resulting map was exhibited as a pencil drawing at the KHOJ open day and again as a digital print at the Auckland Triennial this year.