What I found most appropriate was the name ‘INSERT2014′. It does just that: ‘inserts’ a few dialogues in one’s mind.
“The policeman slapped me in the name of law, and I struck him in the name of freedom.” This line on a print on a wall created an instant connect. I could write dialogues between the bandit and myself. Standing in Mati Ghar, I also heard the protests of so many women – their anguish and their resolve – woven with threads. Also, for the first time in my life, I laughed with the donkey!
A non-linear collection under a dome! Not only visual displays, they could each also be heard clearly.
Add to this a listening experiment where one can stretch one’s last moments! I had imagined listening to some ‘astral body’ experiences. But no, this was completely different. Listening to four conversations simultaneously led one to a state of hunger, left one wanting more. Such a diversity of dialogue. Just as I thought I would make a better interlocutor, I realised there was a big queue – so many of the other listeners were thinking the same! A lot of us wanted a dialogue with the panelists, just to stretch our last moments alive.
INSERT2014 stretches the limits in our mind.
- Sabiha Farhat
Richard Serra’s work, ‘Verb List’, is an annotation of things to do. Like a ‘to do’ list. INSERT2014 had a ‘to do’ list too – one could call it their ‘Noun List’. The anomalous, the spider, the immanent, the demolition, the vigilant, the abandon… On my one visit, I could do a few things on their ‘to do’ list. I circumambulated Mati Ghar. I encountered ‘the dark: that from which all shadows are mined’, and beginnings merged with endings; separate worlds, became one experiential trip.
Snatches of my memories – I saw ‘the prescient’ in Wanuri Kahiu’s urgent, video work; saving a plant became ‘the common’, the planet itself at stake. Tomas Saraceno took on ‘the contingent’, spiders, shining webs spun the darkness. Katarzyna Kozyra was ‘the generative’: through binaries of abundance and deficit, made the personal ‘the political’. Many more memories were made. Harun Farocki, Gauri Gill, Prabhakar Pachpute, Rirkrit Tiravanija (the T-shirt, not the curry). I met Mai-Thu Perret’s ‘the donkey’ in a Fellini-esque encounter, as it stood its ground. I wanted to lie my self in Rupali Patil’s ‘the ground’, in ‘this city, this earth, this, time, here, now’.
Then stairs appeared, one ascended, blindly, guided by sound, the port key you didn’t know would apparate you to Ivana Franke’s magic… All else slipped away, you were in ‘the luminous’. The dome was a cosmos – elliptical dotted lines moved sinuously, sibilantly following one’s hesitant steps, a continuous motion that levitated the mind, the imagination, till Solaris was inserted on Janpath. It was not Breughel’s ‘A Hunter in the Snow’ that swirled, but dry air and lights and ‘the haunting’. And a seeker found the throb of Delhi’s winter (he)art.
- Deepika Sorabjee
If an exhibition takes on the role of a University, pathways and works substituting schools and departments, then INSERT2014′s shape of pedagogy is rather decisive. It invokes things that both craft perspectives, and that which destroy them. Embodying both the generous teacher and the nihilistic one. When this happens, the idea of learning takes a complex turn. It becomes not just about learning and living in a world holding idealistic lenses, such as responsibility and awareness, but it reminds you that often anger is the most plastic form of clarity. With a little bit of anger and a little bit of restraint, all surfaces can be seen through. Anger operates as a flexible lens, enhancing vision and weaning out cross-narratives at the same time.
Anger is about aligning the cross-hair of our angst and the volley of our action. It might not necessarily help us arrive at what is to be done next, but it does help in distancing ourselves from platitudes being peddled elsewhere. Visual culture is a distortion chamber. Experience of the pedagogy at INSERT2014 was often at its clearest when there was nothing to see, when the work or the object were just link lists to be detonated at incidence.
- Prayas Abhinav
I was in search of the grave of an old friend. A fading image of a person I was trying to give flesh to in the residue of memories among friends and family. But the image got coloured in partial remembrances. I found solace in the earth, soil and fruit trees near where she was buried.
It was in this mental zone that I entered ‘last minute’, into INSERT2014, into ‘Last Minute Exercise’, wading in and out of conversations, just as in life, knowing, unknowing, half-knowing. Conscious of the dead who leave our spaces in different ways – here, death had become a ‘co-incidence’ and in conversation, death had transformed into an act.
I wondered about conversing about death right in the centre of the city of Delhi. It took me back to a time when I sat in a Mundari village in Kolhan, having a relaxed discussion, sitting amidst flat rocks, what the Mundas call sasandiri, the memorial stones erected in remembrance of the dead. I was a bit confused; were we taboo for the village? But my co-traveler, an elderly Santali man, laughed, “No, this is the most special place in the village. Our dead live with us.”
So, here too, taboos and barriers fell apart, as we discussed the shadow of life –death – in different forms, and waded through a dream space just for a while, where ‘our days were numbered’ and ‘we needed no political clearance’, where to the left was a film on mineral genocide, and to the right a projected future of water consumption in slow measured suffocating milliliters, where on a wall a landscape crumbled, and, under a dome, silence reigned, and, standing beneath, one experienced the silence of the deep seas. And as one departed, the soft strains of a violin resonated a set of synchronic musical notes in the mind.
- Sayantoni Dutta
- Arundhati Ghosh
The works/installations/talks/performances/conversations spoke with very little pretense. The journey of the work, the stories they told, the forms they took, didn’t try and present themselves as ‘finished’ anything. Like working journals, they spoke of ideas and ways of engaging/conversing – so freely that what we were presented with were techniques of nudging conversations. The idea, it seemed, was not to be mesmerised by some spectacle, but to also take a little walk behind the scenes, to see the rehearsal and the making. This act of presenting and de-presenting made them organic and accessible. Not a sense of “look at what I can do” but more of an invitation to “come see what I’m looking at and how I’m looking at it”.
A six-hour talk on forensic architecture, bumping into an audition, conversations about death, bondage and spider webs, war games and a slippery night sky. You don’t need to be an art critic or an expert of any kind to be confronted with questions about the rules of the game. What, when and how does a conversation/performance/research/installation slip into the framework of art practice? The more it doesn’t fit, the more it does. This continuously breathing sense of the frame I found exciting – and liberating. A framework not neatly knotted up in itself. There were more than enough suggestions and nudges encouraging one to join the conversations, or start new ones.
- Umang Bhattacharyya
The enchanting space of the Mati Ghari was perfect for the endless web of resonance formed by works that seemed to reflect realities and meanings onto and between each other.
Within this context of connections and resonance, particularly appropriate and poignant was Hito Steyerl’s ‘Lovely Andrea’. In search of a photograph of hers taken for an adult bondage magazine, Hito travels to Japan. What ensues is a loud, philosophical, poignant and complex video which, apart from immersing us in a wonderfully bizarre and at times hilarious narrative, strings together seemingly unrelated and irrelevant signs (between Spiderman and bondage, for example) and unites them in a complex web, an aesthetic bind. To add more dimensions to this intricate weave of signifiers, Hito seems to reference not just philosophical heavyweights such as Deleuze, but also popular films set in Japan (such as ‘Lost in Translation’).
Witty, intense, strange and engaging, Hito offers us a panoptic view of society, providing a biting, yet somehow, forgiving critique; at once trying to warn us against its many ills, and at the same time inviting us to participate in its varied practices and shibboleths.
Another work that I particularly liked was Rupali Patil’s ‘Abandoned’. Defying the curatorial space itself, it extends beyond the confines of its own location, at once within and without. When confronted by this work – which challenges, and indeed, shatters, the myth of stable binaries – the viewer doesn’t know what to do. It welcomes the viewer into itself, making the viewer the very work that he is viewing, creating a moment of intense, unsettling engagement.
- Anshul Mukarji
As I was taking this picture, a visitor inquired why a spider’s web is art. Here goes: That an artist brings us to view a spider as it webs, that he invites the spider to a special place in which to be with us in its magnificence, and that he thinks it. It becomes art.
- Om Prakash