Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Last Lecture- Living to Tell a Tale

(Randy Pausch with Family)

I would have left the world half accomplished in my life had I not read this book. ‘The Last Lecture’ is the book. Written by Randy Pausch, this book is an after thought by the author after delivering his ‘Last Lecture’ at the Carnegie Mellon University, where he was a Computer Science Professor.

Randy Pausch is not amongst us today. After giving his last lecture before a 400 plus strong audience at the CMU auditorium on 18th September 2007, he left the world on 25th July 2008, leaving his wife Jai and kids, Dylan (5), Logan (2) and Chole (eighteen months) behind.

Pausch was detected suffering from pancreatic cancer and the chance of survival was near to zero. He survived a few surgeries successfully, only to succumb to the metastasizing cancerous cells in his liver, a few months later.

He was a workaholic and a positive thinker. He studied Computer Science at the Brown University, taught in Virginia University for a while and then moved on to the CMU, where he taught for two decades.

Jai came to his life when he was thirty seven years old. Romance followed. Then a dream marriage, then three kids in succession.

Then one fine morning he was diagnosed with terminal cancer in pancreas; devastating news for all who knew Pausch. For a moment, Pausch too was shattered. But he wanted to live his life the way he wanted. And he wanted to tell his children that he loved them a lot.

At CMU, Last Lecture Series is a routine. Senior professors gave lectures about their own life, inspiring the new generation with ideas and facts. The title ‘Last Lecture’ was deemed ominous. So they changed it into ‘Journeys’. When Pausch was invited to give the ‘Journeys’ lecture, he decided to call it his ‘Last Lecture’ because it was his ‘last’ lecture.

Professors tend to go overboard especially when they talk about their own lives. But Pausch had a different idea about his last lecture. He wanted to talk about his dreams that he cherished as a child. He culled snapshots from his album, made them into slides. Using these slides he explained his life; the dreams he cherished, the accomplishments he had, the ideals he adored, the targets he set, the romance he shared….

He asked his friends to videotape the lecture and to make it available to people all over the world through the internet. It was his legacy that he wanted to leave for his children behind.

The ‘Last Lecture’ became a rage in the internet space. Many of my readers must be knowing about it before I knew anything about Randy Pausch. But I want to share it with my readers.

Mails started flooding his inbox, mailbox and study room. Pausch put all of them in a plastic bin. He wanted his children to see how people ‘saw’ their father. He would have done anything in the world to live a day more because he wanted to see his children growing. He did not see that.

The book ‘The Last Lecture’ came after the ‘last’ lecture. Pausch revisits his life in this book, a bit in detail and also he reviews the ‘Last Lecture’ he delivered at the CMU.

With tears trickling down from my eyes and a heart pounding at my rib cage, I read the book. Today I ask all of you to read it, if you have not read it yet.

Randy was born to a Sergent- English teacher couple, who led a Spartan life in Pittsburgh. His parents were doing a lot of charity work and they were pretty strict with their own kids. Hence, Randy grew up with same ideals of his parents- love people, live a meaningful life. You can do it, was his motto.

He was a know-all-type, reading whatever coming to his way. His dream was to visit Disney Land. His ideal hero was Captain Kirk in the Star Trek series. Pausch wanted to create a virtual world.

And he did create a virtual world. At CMU, he became the leader of Virtual Reality experiments. And many of his students became the prominent virtual reality engineers and programmers in Hollywood.

Pausch would do anything to know things. He wanted to experience Zero gravity. At NASA, university students were allowed to experience it. But the professors were not. Finding that the journalists are allowed in the team of students, Pausch resigned from his Faculty position to become a free lance journalist.

Pauschisms are very famous amongst the Pausch followers and fans.

He says, when there is an elephant in the room, introduce it. It will help you tackling the issue.

Go to the fundamentals. Always consider the end user. The moment the end user gets frustrated by the complicated jargon in a product manual, he moves away from the product itself.

To send across this point, he broke several VCRs with sledgehammer.

Always ask, there will be an answer.

Take criticism. Criticism shows that people care for you.

Brick walls are everywhere. But they are not meant for stopping you. They show how much you desire to go across it.
Pausch is quirky at times. So after his marriage, he decided to take his bride home by a hot air balloon. The trip was fun filled in the beginning till the balloon lost control and landed up near a railway track in the suburbs.

His style is unique; crystal clear and direct.

A dying man does not want any frills around his words, especially Randy Pausch, who never bought a pair of clothes unless he felt that the one which he was using had gone threadbare.

This book is a must read. It is not literature. It is life.

I want to thank a woman who ‘introduced’ this book to me. I don’t know who she is.

I was coming back from Mumbai to Delhi. Generally I prefer aisle seats which give me enough freedom to move my body. In this flight neither aisle nor window seats were available. They gave me a middle seat.

In the allotted row, a woman in her late 20s was sitting at the window seat. I sat next to her. After a few minutes, a man in black suite came and sat next to me in the aisle seat. We were soon like a card players.

I took out a book. The girl on my right fished out a book from her bag too. The man on my left put both of us into shame by introducing an apple-book. He has the latest stuff; digital book reader.

When there are three readers in a row, it is very difficult to adjust the body. You need to keep both your hands on the arm-rest. But it is not polite to rub your hands against the hands of your fellow passenger.

Twice her hands touched me. Both the times I made some adjustments to allow her to share the arm rest.

She gave a very polite smile. Then she went back to her book.

I glanced at her book. It had some pictures, which reminded me of Orhan Pamuk’s Istambul or John Berger’s Ways of Seeing. But it was neither.

The cover page of it said ‘The Last Lecture’.

Back home I googled it. Next day I went out to the nearest bookstore to fetch a copy.

I thank that lady for becoming a medium to Randy Pausch.

As an end note, I would like to quote a Pasch maxim on success:

Success is nothing but hard work and it is there when preparation meets opportunity.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Man who Searched Devil and Found God, Instead

Some hate Paulo Coelho and many love him. Like his Brazilian detractors, several of my friends too say that Coelho says the same thing in the same exotic jargon in all his books.

Paulo Coelho however is no longer an individual but an industry. Notwithstanding the world wide criticism on his works, Coelho’s writings are published in more than sixty eight languages all over the world. Even in the countries where he has not officially given the copyrights to publish him, the pirated editions of his works mint money.

Sixty two years old Paulo Coelho is a jet setter today. His works have saved many lives and several lives have been changed after reading him. He is the warrior of light.

The impression about the author that the readers get while reading his books is quite different from the actual personality of Paulo Coelho. The recent interviews given out by him also misdirect the reader and make them consider him as someone who lives like a monk.

But Coelho is very much a material person. He is keen about the number of copies published, the royalties added to his account and the places where his interviews are conducted. He is also particular about the ways in which he is treated and projected. In short, he is a different person.

The recently published biography of Coelho by the Brazilian journalist and author, Fernando Morais is a tell all tale of Coelho’s life and times. Titled ‘A Warrior’s Life’ and published by Harper Collins, this books reveals the secret life of Paulo Coelho, his tryst with destiny and devil. It is quite fascinating.

Born on 24th August 1947, Coelho became rebellious at very early age itself. His ‘aberrations’ were noticed during the childhood itself as he conspired against his friends by forming a secret group.

Coelho knew at an early stage itself that he was supposed to become an author. But it did not happen for a long time. Influenced by the Flower Power generation, he became a hippy, got addicted to drugs, indulged in sexual experiments, got treated in mental asylum for several months, escaped from the asylum twice, went through shock therapy, arrested and tortured by the Brazilian police, wrote lyrics for a successful singer, established as a famous lyricist, increased his bank balance, involved in property business, headed corporate houses in music industry, traveled all over Europe, got into devil worship, experience devil, denounced god and went back to Him, and did all what he could do to establish in life as a different person till the age forty.

But success as a writer did not come to him. He tried to plagiarize articles as a journalist and author. Failed several times and was accused of plagiarism intermittently. But he withstood all those. He had a mission.

Then came Alchemist in 1988. That catapulted him into stardom. Rest, as we know is history.

Paulo Coelho, all these years registered each and every moment of his life in his diaries. He confessed coaxing his girl friend to commit suicide for the sake of Death Angel. He confessed of having threesomes in bed. He confessed everything to his diary.

Morais’ biography of the author owes a lot on this dairy and journals. As a friend of the author Morais has a first hand knowledge of Paulo Coelho’s life.

This book brings a different Coelho to us. His life makes you to read fast the way suspense thriller does. Nowhere you see the slow pace of a soul searcher. But all through his life Coelho was doing nothing but the soul searching.

I have a special liking for the author because I belong to the group of translators of his works. I translated his 2003 novel ‘Eleven Minutes’ in 2007 and is published by the DC Books, one of the biggest publishing houses in India.

Coelho, whatever you think about him, has a special charm and the allure of it is added by knowing about his relentless efforts to become an author of his own right.

Coelho makes you feel that you can use the same punch in hundred different ways rather than punching hundred different punches in monotonous way.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Latitude 28 and Bhavna Kakar

‘Latitude 28’, the much awaited gallery of Bhavna Kakar opened in New Delhi’s own art district, Lado Sarai on 18 February 2010.

When Bhavna Kakar left Art and Deal Magazine and her association with Art Konsult Gallery, New Delhi, it was clear for all that she would come up with something ‘new’ because everybody knew that Bhavna could do it.

First she showed her individual strength at Travancore Art Gallery by curating a show titled ‘Recycling’. She was supported by Aparajita Jain then.

Later she moved to the Daryaganj area of Old Delhi to establish Latitude 28. And she knew very well that the gallery and her future plans would not work from there thanks to the laid back nature of the place. Soon the decision came to move to Lado Sarai.

Bhavna, now strikes the scene with a double punch. She has not only established her gallery but also launched her art magazine, ‘Take on Art’. The first issue ‘Take Black’ is guest edited by Shaheen Merali. (The review of the magazine will soon appear in this blog once I finish reading it, cover to cover)

On 18th August 2009, Bhavna had thrown a party at the Park Hotel, New Delhi to declare the arrival of ‘Take on Art’. It was a splendid party as it took place on the eve of India Art Summit second edition and on the birthday of the well known artist Chintan Upadhyay. The cake was ‘yummy’, a word our dear artist friend Manjunath Kamath would not like to utter.

The journey of an always smiling, screaming and prodding Bhavna is quite spectacular. Perhaps, it is not spectacular for so many movers and shakers in the art scene, but for a person like me it is a commendable feat because it exemplifies the success story of a young girl from Chandigarh, migrating to Delhi and making it there, with some help and a lot of resistance.

Bhavna came to Delhi after finishing her post graduation in art history and criticism from the MS University, Baroda in late 90s.. Yes, she was a go getter at that time. She befriended artists and art scene personalities. She faced all what a single woman would face in a big bad city. But she did not give in.

Art and Deal Magazine was on the staggering feet after Meena Tagore and Vijayan Kannanpally left the team and Siddharth Tagore took up the responsibility. Siddharth, the mildest man in the art scene roped in the young and vibrant Bhavna to hold the reins of Art and Deal. It was then Delhi could give a competition to Mumbai in terms of publishing art magazines.

I don’t know the circumstances under which Bhavna decided to leave Art and Deal. But that is not important. One has to move on and now we know that Art and Deal also has completed its ten years of existence and it too would do its best to be there, worth reckoning. Time is the best judge for all that.

Latitude 28 is a different gallery mainly because it is not run by a corporate, a business house, a business family or an ex-artist turned curator and gallerist or fashion world magnets. Latitude is run by a trained art critic who has proved her professional skills as well as business acumen.

It is a time to celebrate because it is a gallery run by an individual, who still fights against all odds.

All these years, Bhavna has earned a lot of friends. That does not mean that she does not have any enemies. Her detractors are abundant all over and they have their own reasons to criticize her.

The opening show of the gallery, ‘Size Matters..or Does it?’ is good- nothing more nothing less. Hope Bhavna would apply her curatorial abilities more into this department in future.

Well wishers from all over the country came to the opening and wish all the best to Bhavna.

Dear friend, it is a new journey….wish you all the best… And always remember the journey is more important than the destination.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Name is Charles Saatchi

Anyone in the art world today would like to listen from the enigmatic Charles Saatchi. When he speaks, he leaves more room for speculation than directly answering your question. It happened when he said, Sandro Chia will be remembered for him being dumped by Charles Saatchi. Not too many people dared to question his stance, which is both arrogance and self confidence.

Saatchi says that he collects art to show off. Also he says, ‘art collectors are pretty insignificant in the scheme of things.’ That too is self confidence. This confidence comes from his constant engagement with art. He started collecting art at the age of thirteen. However, at that time his collection mostly comprised of the cover pages of a nudist magazine, ‘Health and Efficiency’. The passion for collecting nude pictures continued till his mother found out her son’s deranged sense of aesthetics and confiscated the magazines.

An art connoisseur who never attends the openings of the shows in his own gallery and other galleries, till recently kept himself away from the press, leaving space for speculations and more speculations about his taste. I remember reading about Saatchi and his hold on the western art world in 2002. It was exactly after five years of his trail blazer show, Sensations in 1997. In Sensations, he had found out the talent of the then struggling artists like Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin and so on.

In 2002, it was very difficult to get a quote from Saatchi. So the book I read was all about others’ views on him; how Saatchi became an advertising world baron and an art collector; his manipulations of British politics and human desire through his advertising skills. Saatchi has a political side of him, which he never wants to reveal. Instead, he tells he would cheer the Iraqi team if it is playing cricket against the English team.

Though paparazzi don’t have enough pictures of Saatchi to fill in the textual gaps, in the available photographs Saatchi looks like a man who never smiles. Saatchi has something to explain on this front. He says that only those people who have little sense of humor laughs out before a joke is cracked, which means he has a thorough sense of humor, which can be tickled only by intelligent humor.

When Saatchi opened the Saatchi galleries website for the unknown and semi-known artists all over the world to post their works and bio-data for free, we could get some glimpses of the Saatchi Speak. An elaborate interview of Saatchi was made available two years back through this website.

Today, Saatchi does not want to keep himself out of the discourse regarding art, aesthetics and its market. Also he thinks it to be fair to spill some beans about his personal life. That’s what we get to see in a collection of Saatchi interviews published by Phaidon. Published in 2009, this book is a sort of repartee between the intelligent readers of several leading British newspapers and the man of the hour, Charles Saatchi.

Anybody would like to buy this book as it is printed in large fonts and pepped up with discreet pictures. It happened in the international book fair 2010 in Delhi. I saw several people picking up this book from the stalls. I wanted to do so. But my debit card was playing pranks with the card machines in the stalls. I had already bought a few books with the cash I had in my pocket.

Hence, it was a pleasure to see the book again at the bookshop of the Gallery BMB, Mumbai. I was there with six other artist-friends from Delhi. We were browsing through the books and at the cash counter, to our common surprise, we all found that we were buying the same book; ‘My Name is Charles Saatchi and I am an Artoholic’.

The timing was perfect. ‘My Name is Khan’, a film by Karan Johar with Shah Rukh Khan in the lead role has already been declared a major box office hit after a stinking controversy. The book and the film have something common in their title. They both publicly pronounce their name with a lot of clarity.

Metaphoric it could be as ‘Khan’ shows the Muslim identity, which is considerably defiled these days and ‘Saatchi’ shows the Jewish identity, which is defied by the Muslim extremists for its connection to Israel, a nation they dislike. Both Khan and Saatchi do not shy away from their respective identities. While Khan is questioned for his patriotism, Saatchi is questioned for not including Israeli artists in his show on the contemporary art of the Middle East. Irony rules the lives of movers and shakers.

This book is like a book of maxims. Saatchi says so many things that are quite unpalatable. But behind any sour statement there is a hard truth, which cannot be avoided. One may question the aesthetic discretion of Saatchi as the way Adrian Searle of The Guardian questioned his recent Empire Strikes back show, which featured his collection of Indian contemporary art. But then Saatchi is not new to this. He collects for his pleasure and to show off.

Here are some quotes from Saatchi, which might interest the readers of this blog:

‘Without being too callous, many artists achieve iconic status by dying before their work has a chance to dwindle into stale repetition.’

‘By and large talent is in such short supply, mediocrity can be taken for brilliance rather more than genius can go undiscovered.’

‘Trying to be charming is self indulgent; allowing oneself to be charmed is simply good manners.’

‘Unlike many of the art world heavy hitters and deep thinkers, I don’t believe painting is middle-class and bourgeois, incapable of saying anything meaningful anymore, too impotent to hold much sway. For me, and for people with good eyes who actually enjoy looking at art, nothing is as uplifting as standing before a great painting, whether it was painted in 1505 or last Tuesday.’

‘I don’t by art to ingratiate myself with artists or socialize in the art world. Most of the artists I meet are rather like everybody else you meet: some are nicer than others.’

‘If you asked the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa or Mahatma Gandhi if they had ever taken advantage of anyone, they would be lying if they claimed they hadn’t. So you can put me right up there with them, thanks.’

‘I don’t play art Olympics. I don’t have a top ten artists or a top ten favorite works bobbing around in my head.’

Monday, February 8, 2010

Remembrance of Sabarmati

There are some occasions when you feel that you should have been twenty years or something. But what to do, you are already reaching forty one year old and think that it is nasty for others if you behave like a twenty something guy.
Today, I am with these young art professionals namely, Anubhav Nath, curator and director of Ojas Art Gallery and the founder director of Ramchander Nath Foundation, Sukesan Kanka, artist from Kerala, Vicky Roy, photography artist from Delhi, Hindol Brahmbhatt, artist from Ahmedabad and Pramesh Surti from Pardi, which is now my second ‘professional home’.

We are in the land of Mahatma Gandhi. And suddenly we feel that we are all of the same age. We are all share the same experience about Gandhiji. We all understand Gandhiji in the same way. Age does not matter when it comes to the issue of looking at Gandhiji. You get a feeling that, this man does not give you a chance to have a complete hold on him. If you want to have complete hold on Gandhiji, you need to become one with him. For the time being, it is very difficult to become one with him.

I remember the painting of one of my artist friends, Manjunath Kamath. He has painted a work titled, ‘Trying to Sit Like Gandhi’. In this painting you see a man sitting in complete isolation and tranquility, emulating the stillness of mind and body. For the artist, these are the qualities that define Gandhi. You can be tranquil, you can be still and you can try to be at peace with yourself, then you experience a sort of Gandhiji in you. Let me tell you it is very difficult.

I am here in the vicinity of Sabarmati Ashram, which Gandhiji set up once he landed up in Gujarat from South Africa. Gandhiji set out from here for the famous Dandi March in 12th March 1930. His intention was to break the salt law implemented by the British Rulers. He had taken a vow that he would not return to this Ashram until he snatches Indian independence from the British rulers. He did gain that on 15th August 1947. But he could not come back to Sabarmati Ashram as he was involved in healing so many political wounds inflicted by the Indian independence on the political body of India.

So today, Sabarmati Ashram stands before me as an unfinished project. Gandhiji’s promise is not fulfilled. He gained the freedom for India. But he did not come back to this place. So for me this place looks like a place, which is haunted by Gandhiji’s soul. So many people come here every day. When we are there to do some preliminary arrangements for the artists’ visit tomorrow, we see so many people, so many of them, still coming inside the Ashram, spending time there, looking for the invisible Gandhiji.

Perhaps, we are also doing the same. But this time with a difference. Last time I and Anubhav had come here to do some research on the Dandhi March. Today we realize that our mission has got a different dimension. We are going to come to this place tomorrow again with a set of fifteen artists from all over India. I am sure that they are going to look for Gandhiji here. I am also sure that Gandhiji is somewhere around here because he has not yet fulfilled his promise of coming back.
Gandhiji has a daily meeting with the visitors here. If Gandhiji is alive in any place in India, I feel that it is here, it is here, it is here in Sabarmati Ashram because it is the place that he had left with a hope.

Sukesan Kanka and Vicky Roy move around in the campus. They take pictures. They experience Gandhi in their own way. They click pictures. They speak to Gandhiji in their secret language.

Vicky Roy has already clicked the best Gandhiji image he could ever gather from there. Like an apparition the image comes out from the darkness of a museum space. And Sukesan later on tells me that he has already found the ‘energy corner’ in the Ashram. He has already started asking for a canvas. I ask him to wait for two more days. These guys are gull of energy.
Then Anubhav reminds me that this year is going to be the 80th anniversary of Dandi March. Yes, I said Anubhav reminded me of this because we had been informed of this a few months back during our research trip.

It is very important to forget things. Forgetting makes the remembrance much poignant and meaningful. Our project is meaningful because most of the people in our country have forgotten about Dandi March and its 80th anniversary. This project is a way of remembrance.

That’s why we see a lot of ‘Gandhiji’ images in Face Book and in artists’ studios ever since we announced this project.
When someone remembers, remembrance for others becomes a game. And to watch that game is an interesting thing.
I cannot participate in that game. I am no longer young to play that game. I can sit in the sidelines and watch and see the kids playing the game. It too is a learning experience.

In the evening, we visit Hindol’s studio in Ahmedabad. Hindol is a participant artist in the project. He has good spirits and has done a lot of works on Gandhiji.

I want to drown my age in some spirit and I do that in Hindol’s studio.

That is the only way to join the friends in their twenties and feel the way they feel about things.

Suddenly I realize that they feel the way I feel. Exactly like a forty year old man feels.

Sabarmati has made all the difference. They have met an old man there. They have met Gandhiji somewhere there.
I don’t ask them where because it is good to leave certain things unanswered.

(picture by Vicky Roy)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Resistance and Survival: Videos and Aesthetic Responsibility

(Still from 'Vortex' by Babu Eshwar Prasad)

(Still from 'I am a Bad Guy' by Bharathesh Yadav)

(Still from 'Amusement Park' by Gigi SCaria)

(Still from 'Disable Weapon' by Hindol Bhrahmbhatt)

(Still from 'Selt-Portrait' by K.M.Madhusudhanan)

(Still from 'Hollow Men' by Prasad Raghavan)

(Still from 'Talk' by Manjunath Kamath)

(Still from 'Axiom of Infinity' by Murali Cheeroth)

(Still from 'Rear View Mirror' by Somu Desai)

(Still from 'Not All Flowers Fall' by Surekha)

(Still from 'And Another Day' by Surekha)

Suddenly, contemporary life finds too many tools to unlock itself. In other words, it finds too many mediums to express itself. However, the charm of the conventional mediums does not die out. Instead of fading away from the mainstream discourse of general life, they come as the strong points of reference. When a new medium is used, its affinity with the conventional ones and also its ruptures and departures from the same becomes all the more important. What happened during the last two decades in the practice(s) of video art is this. By now the affinities are found, the departures and ruptures are clarified. Video art has fought its way to the discursive fields of Indian contemporary art.

There was a time when deliberate ambiguity of the familiar played a key role in creating the aforementioned ruptures from the conventional. Now it is the time for dispelling the ambiguities of the medium. Video as a medium has earned its right to exist in the aesthetic discourse. While the artists indulge in the discreet charm of digital technology and its enchanting effects on the viewer who is disadvantaged by the ‘lack’ of ‘knowledge’, it has given an added responsibility to the artists to deal with the charm of technology to engage people with the ‘content’ within the visual result that they create using this medium.

A closer look at the video produced in India during the last ten years would reveal that the artists’ indulgence with the medium’s inherent complexities has taken a new course to accommodate socially, politically and culturally relevant themes. These themes vary as per the artists’ involvement with the society in general and aesthetics (and the politics of it too) in particular. Video, in this sense has graduated from being a trendier medium to a responsible medium to convey effective ideas to a mass which prefers to engage itself with art more closely than any other mode.

The ten artists in ‘VIDEO’, however diversified their approaches to the medium be, resort to and respond to one common theme; a thinking individual’s die-hard struggle for equal rights and justice. His/her hope for a better future and at the same time their innate humor employed in analyzing the events around them are expressed well in these videos. The maturity of their language also confirms how video has become an extension of creative practices irrespective of the hierarchies attributed to it by certain vested interests.

Surekha’s videos show the reconstruction of an innocent viewing. The childhood memories of watching an airplane making rounds in the sky get translated into the terror of looking at the planes as potential threats that would destroy towers and high rises. In her videos she traces the artificial control lines. Composite architectures, deliberately made and set into motion by Gigi Scaria, tell us the tales of powers that are hidden behind the facades of prosperity and urban growth. Political Realism of Gigi tells us history’s icons becoming growing dead bodies in our domestic spaces. Babu Eshwar Prasad registers the implied violence of abandoned industrial materials. And Somu Desai looks at history as a referential point to asses the injustice of today.

Self Portrait of K.M.Madhusudhanan is a photographer’s travels through morgues. He finds his companion in a policeman. State’s violence and the dead men’s histories grow into the existence of the photographer; he becomes the victim and the chronicler of pain at the same time. Murali Cheeroth too harks back to the words of resistance inscribed subtly in the annals of history. His existential questions defy the law of gravity. Hindol Brahmbhatt joins the millions of people who look at the symbols of peace with hope and realize how they become the mechanisms of death and violence before their eyes.

Bharathesh Yadav makes an appealing picture of God as represented in the popular narratives. At the same time the same god forsakes him when he himself turns out to be a bad boy and counts the dreary moments of life in order to survive. Manjunath Kamath must be laughing with his viewers as he presents the endless and strategic arguments between the powerful. All the arguments are supposed to end in agreement and in mutual threatening. His protagonists find no direction in the animated video but they all find a way unto themselves, eventually. Prasad Raghavan dispassionately documents how his life’s mission is being destroyed by the callous hands of the State. Through a very personal micro narrative, he reveals a world of silent resistance.

These videos in VIDEO could be a cross section of contemporary lives that are critically and aesthetically lived. They don’t play with the mesmerizing effects of mechanics. They don’t make claims of being ‘interactive’. But they make the viewers ‘active’ in thinking; about the works they watch, if not at least about themselves.


New Delhi, February 2010

(A full catalogue is available at or write to Studio Zero