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Citizens of Time

Curated by Veeranganakumari Solanki

The future is yesterday’s tomorrow. The ephemeral elements of time are permanent frames that layer perceptions, and everything that one refers to is in context with a time frame that determines the existence of a moment. Whether it be seconds, minutes, hours, centuries or light years, change is an inherent factor of time; nothing can be preserved forever. There is a desire to hold time, to let time go, to want time to stay or to disappear. ‘Citizens of Time’ are the keepers of these universal borders of time. They explore the variables in time folders while realising the crucial existence of an alternative presence and engagement within their time vaults of space and works. The impermanence of time filters in-and-out of landscapes, glass jars, homes, objects and the mind’s perceptions. The contemporary perception of telling time has been transformed from its history of division through sundials, shadow clocks and light. ‘Citizens of Time’ are divided into four time pockets – the residue of time through natural elements, memory traps from spaces and personal environments, translated time maps of imagination and mindnarratives of distorted time. Each of these edited spans of created moments is layered with elements of the artist’s personal rendition of time. They exist as analogies of experience that differ from created utopias to documentations of timed reality. Stephen Hawking’s book, “A Brief History of Time” renders time from the evolution of the Big Bang Theory into the futuristic possibility of time travel and alternative realities. He further explains Einstein’s theory of time as the fourth dimension of our three-dimensional world. The artists of ‘Citizens of Time’ explore the minute details and texture which make up this fourth dimension. These are elements that build up relationships, societies, cities, countries and eventually the universe. Time goes beyond its metaphysical existence to translate into visual forms of a new aesthetic of time in fantasies, nostalgia and memories. These personal capsules of time plant themselves into a universe of subjective interpretations of history and the future. Time, in the form of natural elements, parallels global warming to an unknown land; and bottled time with notes of precise minutes and thoughts captured, converse with an artist’s rendition of personal notes in timeless frames of landscapes of a mountain and lake. The places and works, similar to the nature of time straddle between timelessness and the precision of moments. Taking time into personal spaces, the second pocket explores the location of the body and frozen time frames. Here one experiences a revision of working processes, frozen time and peeled memories from homes and histories. Time seeps in through wallpapers, refrigerators and windows. A visual distortion of created realties follows to change the tradition of the history of time. The third pocket sees time repeating itself in created environments which are subject to the viewer’s imagination. History layers itself with contemporary happenings and loops into renditions of the artists’ compositions. In the final section, there is a departure from the material into a distortion of the present, through the past in time frames of the mind. Here, the property of time and places are blurred to become the ownership of the mind’s soul and time returns back into the personal universe. These time deposits carry forward into memories as experienced time frames, which pulse into the past, history, experienced present and travelled future.

Hemali Bhuta

Hemali Bhuta (b. 1978) is an internationally recognised artist whose works are closely related to architectural elements. Her interventions in space research through ephemeral materials, time, into the history of sites, and her minimal approach using imitation, deception, impermanence and concealment are seen in ‘The Residual Diameter’. In this work, Bangladeshi muslin cloth is time-consumingly and painstakingly crafted into a wallpaper roll. Bhuta says, “It is a transformation that involves Recycle as a phenomenon… The manifestation enables one to measure time by mapping the history of itself. [Here, it is the] exclusivity of the weavers’ craft, as [opposed to] the mass production of the roll!”  

Remen Chopra

Remen Chopra (b. 1980) combines drawing, photography, painting, sculpture and installation to create works that are visually as layered as their conceptual depth. Elements of Renaissance art and architecture, central to Chopra’s works, are further layered with references to historic time periods merging into contemporary ones, through composed collectives of her imagination, as seen in Lives Within Time If Time Lives Within It. Through the reference of time as a moral concept, where past, present and future merge, Chopra addresses “the New Renaissance”, while drawing strongly from elements of history. 

Kiran Subbaiah

Kiran Subbaiah (b. 1971) includes object assemblages, site/context-specific texts, short stories, videos, and proposals for utilitarian objects in his work. He has been working with digital art / media since 1999 and has constantly questioned the use of objects and their presence, while placing himself as a protagonist in most of his works. The process of the existence of the required object and fictitious realities in his series or videos and in ‘Doing Without’ deliberately places the artist in situations beyond the practical. His works raise existential questions of the necessary presence of another with relationship / relating to procrastination, convenience and time.

Baptist Coelho

Baptist Coelho (b. 1977) is a multi-media artist whose projects merge personal research with collaborations across cultures, geographies and histories. ‘Gurgaon to Panamik, 2008-09’ (a part of the multi-disciplinary project, “You can’t afford to have emotions out there…”) focuses on the life of the soldier; not as a machine of war but as a man coping with daily complexities of conflict. A collection of bottles and corresponding handwritten notes from soldiers and locals Coelho encountered on his research trip act as time capsules. The works become a testament to existence and the effect on people’s lives due to the Siachen conflict, while also drawing together a strong connection between air, natural space and thoughts of common / ordinary people.

Vibha Galhotra 

Vibha Galhotra (b. 1978) employs various media, from photography to installation and sculpture to create, conceptually and symbolically, experiential spaces. She has worked with dimensions of art, ecology, economy /economics, activism, surreal time and created utopias. ‘15 Days of May’ was realised within a time-frame of 15 days. With a mundane act of leaving a clean white rope outside her studio, the artist documented the effect of the polluted air of her city as displayed on the rope. The harsh alterations of reality through the subtle passage of time are reflected along with the artist’s primary concerns of global warming and its effect on ecology.

Nandan Ghiya 

Nandan Ghiya, (b. 1980) in his practice builds upon his background in fashion, with antiques and new technology. Ghiya refers to the 21st century as one of emulation, competition and pressure. Here one is striving to address routine challenges and adversities, which the artist refers to as ‘Glitches”. Ghiya’s work reflects these ‘glitches” through visual interventions, distortions and transformations of old photographs, sculptures and objects. The set of two wooden figurines in ‘Peer- Pressure Glitch’ is a distortion of ideal beauty, in a state of limbo, evolution, transformation and transition, from old to new or from physical to digital.

Sonia Jose

Sonia Jose (b. 1982) relates to the environment and personal/social history in her work, and this stems from a need to preserve and acknowledge lived experience that surrounds routine life practices. The ‘Untitled’ (Rug) with the screenprint of hand-written text – So Much to Say – was inspired at a time when the artist was looking for a solution to calm her mind. Jose chose the words ‘so much to say’ as a meditative repetition and response to eclipse her needs, desire or compulsion to have anything to say at that time.

Manjunath Kamath 

Manjunath Kamath (b. 1972), a collector of images, draws his initial inspiration from Indian Nathdwara paintings and collages, juxtaposing them with a living room, animals and displaced imagery. He gathers images from various sources to create narrative panoramas that weave in-and-out of an amalgamation of history, experience and imagination, layered with constructed myth, fantasy and evidence of overlapped time. In ‘Familiar Music from an Old Theatre’ he plays with time and space to create a magical realism that is both subjective and unique in experience.

Riyas Komu 

Riyas Komu (b. 1971) focuses upon the political and cultural history of Kerala; the artist is a co-founder of the KochiMuziris Biennale. ‘The Last Wall’ is a narrative of a man from the artist’s neighbourhood, who lives within time frames of his mind, disconnected from the maze of a city. Working mainly at night, this man’s mind time is seen through his graffiti which is more text based than visual. By documenting this through video, Komu creates a twelve-minute experience of a visually distorted perception of time narrated through sound.

Nandita Kumar

Nandita Kumar (b.1981) works with a range of media including new-media, technology, video and painting to create immersive environments. Through her artistic research and interactive works, she explores the elemental process through which human beings construct meaning. ‘Birth of a Brainfly’ is a surreal narrative dealing with the process of a person’s individuation of a mental-scape. Similarly, ‘Tentacles of Dimensions’ is a journey of a brain that has unplugged its cultural programming and is indulging in the senses. Both these flights into self-constructed labyrinths of ego and creative utopias deny all construct of time.

Ritesh Meshram 

Ritesh Meshram (b. 1975) is inspired by everyday objects which he explores through painting, sculpture, video, installed assemblage and kinetic work. The series of sculptures and prints are related to the detail of transitional spaces and time in a home, where the residue of time is seen through passages, window frames and photographs. This abstraction and fragility of time is carefully crafted in this series which the artist describes as a process against his temperament.

Prajakta Potnis

Prajakta Potnis (b. 1980) enquires into the seepage of time, life-span and aura around mundane objects from daily life, through photography, painting and site-specific installations. While ‘Still Life’ explores the process of degeneration, ‘Capsule’ explores the idea of freezing time and age. Potnis uses the refrigerator as a connotation of controlled temperature, which enables one to create a sterile enclosed space similar to the one in a mall or an airport. She likens these capsuled, sometimes transit spaces to zones that are not affected by the outside. They appear to be cloned, sterile centres within a city.

Gigi Scaria

Gigi Scaria (b. 1973) works with painting, sculpture, photography and film to explore his interest in issues of urban and economic development, issues surrounding migration and urban architecture. The delusion and anonymity of the geographical locations he uses, makes the spaces he works with universal. Further incorporating objects that cannot be attributed to an identifiable time or space, the artist places his works within the frame of timelessness. In ‘Camel and the Needle’, and ‘Clueless’, barren landscapes of salt and sand, void of habitation are mirages of recognition. They go beyond any inclination of recognition of time and place. The large photographs leave the viewer to collect traces of memories in this ‘Dust’, which is the title of the recent series of the artist’s works, to which these photographs belong.

Kartik Sood

Kartik Sood (b. 1986) creates photographs, paintings and new-media installations that share autobiographical, invented and dislocated memories of a story-teller. The works are patterns of memories through photographs and personal notes, which work themselves into an idea of a timeless setting of space. Sood’s images are constructed with the idea of time -- outside and inside. The artist describes the locations as “spaces of contemplation, where one often stops by to introspect. While the outer time goes on running at the usual speed, there are inner time transitions at such spaces. Is it really an illusion of time shifting, or does time really bend on our day to day lives?”

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