Installation art, performance art or just plain art, artists made a quite a statement at the India Art Fair 2015! We present a few who stood out for social causes close to their heart.
When Surendra Pal Joshi visited Uttarakhand after the devastation, he noticed women with torn sarees, keeping their blouses together using safety pins. The artist, represented by Gallery Artchill, has used 100,000 safety pins for his installation Paani to illustrate the cloudburst, responsible for the deaths of thousands of pilgrims in Uttarakhand in 2013. He says, “I wanted something sharp to convey the harshness of the water, which is otherwise considered safe. That’s why, the safety pins.” The steel is reminiscent of the lighting that accompanied the cloudburst. His other installation, a helmet with headphones, created using 50,000 safety pins and titled Music of Our Times, is futuristic and also makes a reference to the importance of staying safe on the roads.
Dhaka’s Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013, with over 3,500 workers inside, cost the lives of over a thousand people. When Tayeba Begum Lipi visited the site later, a sewing machine caught her eye. Each time she went there, she recalls, “I would see it there. Later, I began to associate it with the incident.” The artist, represented at the fair by Shrine Empire Gallery and who also runs a non-profit, first used razor blades for an installation during a residency in Pakistan, when the turmoil there reminded her of Bangladesh. “I went out to the market and bought nearly 5,000 blades. But, now, I get them made on order.”
DIALOGUES ON WAR
Postcards with war motifs decorate the table, with a few people stooped over them writing out their definitions of war, along with their addresses on accompanying postcards. After the event, the postcards will be sent out to those involved. The interactive project is part of an ongoing series and comes from Baroda-based artist Priti Kahar, who has also created Zero Hour, featuring clocks stuck in time, with each hand embossed by a lethal weapon and pointing towards a particular continent. Says Priti, “I want to reach out to everybody through my art, including schools, and talk about the devastation caused by war.”
Pakistani artist Muhammad Zeeshan’s art, represented by Latitude 28, makes a statement. If not for the lack of water supply, the painting (a montage from a film starring Scarlett Johansson) would have been fully submerged by the ink and water solution it stood in within a tank, on the third and final day of the art fair. Says Zeeshan, “The idea is to talk about the finite nature of art. Whoever came on the first day, saw the artwork. But, whoever, came in later, didn’t. And if nobody came, its fate wouldn’t have changed.” It allows the audience to focus on the here and now.