Art News & Views

I Am Here, An Exhibition of Video Self Portraits at Jaaga


By Sumitra Sunder

Bengaluru. The show which started on 30th September and continued till 7th October 2011, used artists' commentaries on the self and its various meanings to probe self representation as a whole, in the context of cultural constructs. The curator Lina Vincent Sunish stated, “I Am Here looks at the representation of the self through the familiar area of self portraiture, and employs the processes of representation as a means of uncovering more complex ideas of the Self.” Through the work on display, the show throws light on the varied cultural backgrounds and contexts the artists come from/are representing. Each artist has used the body or part of it in order to address the idea of the body reacting and adapting to physical changes. Some of the installations were created specifically for the show like Diego Caglioni's Self Pad and Clemence b.t.d. Barrett' s All and 1.

This collective show with 15 artists portraying their idea of representing the self was on at Jaaga's new space in Bengaluru. The fifteen works in the show have been divided within three frameworks of understanding- Body: Instrument; Mission Identity; and Voicing the Collective. The work of Sabrina Osborne, Srinivasa Prasad, Sonia Khurana, Surekha and Baptist Coelho are part of the Body: Instrument theme.

Srinivasa Prasad created the work “Cleansing” during a residency at the ARCUS Project in Moriya, Japan. His work often involves a statement about ritual and cultural practices. Here he uses tonsuring of the head, which is a practice associated with death rites to metaphorically point at a “cleansing” of flushing out of unwanted memories/things.

The second theme is Mission Identity, featuring the work of Diego Caglioni, Kiran Subbaiah, Rudina Hoxhaj, Jihye Park, Abhishek Hazra and Venugopal V G. This theme deals with issues of identity and how they become an intrinsic part of an artist's work.

The work belonging to this category is mostly personal/autobiographical sketches. “The moment of making and the 'creation' gesture itself is summarized in this video”- Diego Caglioni. His work has dealt with the effect of new media on everyday life and behavior of people.

Kiran Subbaiah has put together bits of previous work in a seemingly random sequence, which leads to a rather absurd narrative. His work so far involves three dimensional objects, site and context specific installations and videos.

Rudina Hoxhaj's video runs for two minutes, showing a changing cityscape with a humming in the background. The overall effect is to draw the viewer back into a space which they relate to culturally and personally. To the artist, this is a reference to the place she comes from.

Abhishek Hazra uses the physical gesture of throwing dirt as a metaphor for sullying a space that represents capitalist economy with a Marxist imagination. The video installation is accompanied by the text “The traders of Praxis have changed Marx in various ways”- Karl Marx's Eleventh thesis of Feuerbach. The artist states that he collected soil from Trier in Germany, the place Karl Marx was born and then, placing himself at the Casino Luxembourg, attempts to throw that dirt to the winds.

The third theme 'Voicing the Collective' focuses on collective memories and cultural implications of those memories. The artists grouped under this section are Mahububur Rahman, Murali Cheroth, Tayeba Begum Lipi and Clemence b.t.d barret.

The show has an almost democratically chosen array of artists. The idea is not to make any particular reference to the representation of the self but to look at representation from different cultural points of view. The show uses three key elements, the physical body, the identity and social contexts as the crux to bring together work of a diverse group of artists. By using the body as a metaphor or carrier of a message, these elements of using the self to address broader issues of Politics and society

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