Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mirage at Religare: Analyzing the City in Garima Jayadevan’s Way

(Mirage by Garima Jayadevan- a view from outside)

The Transforming State- that was the theme of this year’s Religare Arts i residency program, by now famously called ‘Connaught Place/Why Not Place’. With artists Sumakshi Singh and Paola Cabal as mentor-curators, the artists of 2010, namely Purnna Behera, Brad Biancardi, Becky Brown, Rebecca Carter, Raffaella Della Olga, Garima Jayadevan, Greg Jones, Kavita Singh Kale, Megha Katyal, Nidhi Khurana, Jitesh Malik, Koustav Nag, Rajesh Kr Prasad, Vishwa Shroff, Rajesh Kr Singh and Onishi Yasuaki really did come out with set of interesting works.

I should have written about all the works. But my curiosity takes me in and around one particular work titled ‘Mirage’ constructed by a Mumbai based young artist, Garima Jayadevan. Let me add here that delineating this particular work of art does not discount the rest of the artists of quality or consideration. My attention to one amongst the few could be the whims of a critic and I am sure my whimsical engagement would take me to the other works sooner than later.

(Mirage- a view from the door)

Garima Jayadevan’s work is a four feet by seven feet vertical enclosure with carefully cut mirror pieces stuck on to the inner walls of it. Small little decorative electric bulbs runs along like veins and arteries lighting up the interior of the vertical box, where as a viewer you are invited to enter. Once you are in, you are entrapped in a maze that reflects your fragmented and dislocated image into infinity. The lights enhance these reflections and you notice that on the floor there are the images of arrows that point to all directions and while observing this entrapment through the eyes widened with amazement, you do not fail to notice that particular symbol of two interconnected arrows, which obviously the visitors and dwellers in the city of Delhi do not fail to notice as this symbol stands for the city’s transport corporation otherwise known as DTC (Delhi Transport Corporation).

(Mirage- The DTC symbol)

This is work enchants you in different levels. Reading against the backdrop of the thematic and also along with the other works proving their might in various formats, Mirage tells you that it is all about the city; city as a maze, city as a crucible, city as a boiling pot, city as an alluring trap, city as a desire machine, city as an agency that fragments its occupants. Garima’s points of references are the religious structures that she has come across during her twenty six years of life. These structures include Jain Temple, Kerala temples, Glass Palaces of visual opulence etc. There are obvious references to similar works in the recent art history, to which we would make a random visit later.

(Mirage -Detail)

If you don’t have too many references to art and films, the moment you step into this work, you remember your experience in an elevator fitted with mirrors on its four walls, or a changing room in readymade wear showroom or a washroom in a plush airport or a star hotel, or a beauty parlor/saloon where you made your last visit. If you are more inclined to remember arty stuff than the mundane you remember Charlie Chaplin’s movie titled ‘The Circus’ where Chaplin gets into trouble with law and order and gets chased by a policeman only to get trapped into a maze.

(Mirage- detail)

Perhaps, I am artier than thou! That’s why I immediately remembered Charlie Chaplin running like a mouse trapped inside glass house. If you look beyond the religious references of Garima’s works (that works only on the formal level), you come to know that what the work attempts to capture is the fragmented and terrorized relationship between the city as a powerful structure or all allurements and the occupant’s state of perpetual subjection to this terrifying power/beauty. Each time you try to negotiate with the society in different levels and each time you realize that you are left alone to figure out what city is for you. You remember Joseph K in Kafka’s novels where K is left alone to deconstruct the castles and judiciary systems. Garima’s work with its uncanny charm makes you aware of your powerless-ness as put against the omnipotent city, which ironically is constructed by none other than you.

(Mirage - Detail)

Now, I have been accused of some sort of treachery for citing art historical references that almost thwart the right of a work of art to be treated as autonomous and independent of influences. Whenever, I cite an art historical milestone, I don’t intend to question the veracity and originality of the artist in consideration, instead I try to see the linkages between the artist’s formal constitution vis-à-vis similar attempts in history. Here in Garima’s case, it is not me, but the mentors themselves cite the following references as a backdrop to the artist herself, in order to clear her ideas about the city. Though there are no visual references given by the curators, I have made my quick research in the line of the curators and found out the following images for your reference. This does not mean that Garima is a copycat or a blind follower of the following artists.

(Love Forever by Yayoyi Kusama)

(Work by Michelangelo Pistelleto)

(Work by Anjali Srinivasan)

(Work by Anjali Srinivasan)

Garima had her BFA from Rajasthan Arts College, Jaipur and MFA from the Government Fine Arts Institute, Indore (2007). To know her artistic talents a bit more closely, I present a few images from her repertoire of works so far:

(Garima Jayadevan with Mirage)

(Works by Garima Jayadevan)

Those who have seen this much will follow this link for sure:

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