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“How can everyday life be defined? It surrounds us, it besieges us… We are inside it and outside it. No so-called ‘elevated’ activity can be reduced to it, nor can it be separated from it... It is at the heart of the everyday that projects become works of creativity.” - Henri Lefebvre
Is there a tendency among us to exalt art as a way to escape from the mundane? Or as a focusing of creative human potential in such a way as to escape the conditioning of experience and circumstance that limit us to our own small cages of daily habit and behaviour? And while it is true that art does allow for both a sense of meditation and liberation, it is also true that such a stance does not adequately recognise the many smaller and equally vital ways in which humans engage with and overcome the daily alienations of living. But it is all around us, in the ways we arrange our books, our gardens, our kitchens, the music we play, the clothes we wear. We do not simply take our lived spaces as they are; we work them, and in doing so rearrange our mental and emotional furniture in ways that energise us, give of ourselves and give ourselves meaning.
In this joint exhibition we juxtapose these two forms of creative engagement - the formal aesthetic expression of five artists and that of five others who use their own media to reflect on the art they see.
To create a multidisciplinary show, we invited collaborators to respond to each of the works:
Arjun Jayadev selected a book that would relate to each work. Michael Little curated a plant display for each work. Archana Pidathala wrote a piece of text, which is also a recipe that reflects on each work. Phantom Hands selected pieces of furniture for each work. Avinash Veeraraghavan selected a piece of music in response to each work.
Arjun Jayadev | response to each work
Arjun is a Professor of Economics at the School of Liberal Studies at Azim Premji University in Bangalore, India. He was previously Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He is also closely involved with the Institute for New Economic Thinking. He has a PhD in Economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
For Dia Mehhta Bhupal Alice Munroe, Family Furnishings: Selected Stories, 1995 - 2014
For Krishnaraj Chonat Richard Powers, The Overstory, 2018
For Sheela Gowda Srilal Shukla, Raag Darbari 1968, 1992
For Prabhavathi Meppayil W.G. Sebald, Rings of Saturn, 1995
For Sudarshan Shetty Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities, 1974
Michael Little | response to each work
Michael Little has a Masters of Landscape Architecture from the University of Massachusetts. He has designed many significant landscape projects including ecological parks (Adyar Poonga, Toyota Ecozone), institutional campuses and residential layouts (Wild Orchid - Yercad, Good Earth - Kengeri). His unique approach to landscape involves an unfolding of the landscape’s spirit of place with an artful mix of planting, shaped landforms, natural water bodies, local boulders and integrated structures. His work speaks to the distant landscapes of prehistory and to our contemporary visions of nature and culture.
For Dia Mehhta Bhupal Kalanchoe Thyrsiflora Crassulaceae | Kalanchoe
For Krishnaraj Chonat Blechinum Gibbum Blechnaceae | Blechnum
For Sheela Gowda Calathea Lutea Marantaceae | Calathea Cymbopogon Poaceae | Cymbopogon
For Prabhavathi Meppayil Anthurium Hookerii Araceae | Anthurium
For Sudarshan Shetty Equisetum Hyemale Equisetaceae | Equisetum Zamiaculcas Zamifolia Araceae | Zamiaculcas
Cuisine | Archana Pidathala | response to each work
Archana Pidathala is the author of Five Morsels of Love, a cookbook based on her grandmother’s 1974 Telugu cookbook, Vanita Van?akalu. In 2017 Five Morsels of Love was shortlisted for the prestigious Art of Eating prize - an award that recognises excellence in food writing. Archana holds a bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering from NIT Warangal and an MBA from the Indian School of Business. She lives in Bangalore.
For Sudarshan Shetty I live next to a 24-storey building in construction. Every evening at 6 when I take my son to the sandpit I catch an earthy aroma wafting in. Across the compound wall, I see a woman in neon green cook in her makeshift home. Lentils and greens and garlic and tamarind and green chilies. Simmered in a mud pot on a wood fire. Mashed with a whisk to blend in. Soon she will serve the dal with rice to her family of six. The same meal every single day. What would it mean for that woman to be elsewhere. On a cruise ship. To forget who she is. To forget her aching back, her son’s school fees, her next meal.
For Sheela Gowda Hunger — the raw hollow pain of a body in need. Isn’t it there, everywhere, in the bylanes of this great nation. I found it sated once in a bamboo hut with a cow dung hearth. Guntur red chiles roasted on an open flame till they puffed like bee stung thumbs. Pounded to flakes in a mortar and pestle. Stirred into tamarind water sweetened with jaggery. Mixed with rock salt and crushed chunks of onion and garlic. Balls of ragi dipped in that smoky vermillion sauce brought life to a man and his wife. Like monsoon rain and a forgiven loan.
For Prabhavathi Meppayil Is there no hope left? Why is everything a shade of orange — from that president’s hair to this country’s air. What would it take to bleach this world of hatred, I wondered as I cracked open a coconut. Twirled through the sweet moist flesh with my grandmother’s heirloom grater Put a pan on, tempered mustard, red chilies and curry leaves in hot oil. Added the grated coconut, salt and cooked millet. Tossed, rolled into morsels, swallowed. There must be a way out. To paint this planet a shade a milky white, if only we persist.
For Dia Mehhta Bhupal Radish leaves stir-fried. Ridge gourd peel ‘chutnified’. Fish head stewed to a broth. Giblets simmered in wine. Jackfruit seeds curried. Vegetables pickled. Meat smoked. Fruit candied. Peels composted to rich, dark earth. Mundane kitchen things. Could they save the planet, even if for a little bit longer? Isn’t the dream of bequeathal simple. Of air to breathe. Of water to drink. Of soil to grow. Of a world where thought is free.
For Krishnaraj Chonat Is moringa the new super food or, wait, is it camel milk ? What does it take to reclaim our own backyard without science or the west or the food industry telling us so? With their peppery undertones and mild bitterness moringa leaves are great stir-fried or on salads or kneaded into chapati dough. For an easy chutney, sauté a cup of moringa along with a few garlic cloves for 6 to 7 minutes. Dry roast a tsp each of cumin and coriander seeds, a pinch of fenugreek seeds, a red chilli and a tbsp of sesame. Blend the leaves and all the toasted spices with a tiny bit of tamarind paste, jaggery and rock salt, with a splash of water. Don’t make it a very fine paste. Leave some texture and drama in there. Fry chopped garlic golden in a tsp of coconut oil, pour over the chutney. Mix with rice and ghee, eat with your hands, lick your fingers clean. Feel the forest enter your bones.
Music | Avinash Veeraraghavan | response to each work
Avinash Veeraraghavan is an artist based in Bangalore. His recent solo exhibitions include ‘1024 Names’, GALLERYSKE, Bangalore (2016), ‘We do not see things the way they are, we see things the way we are’, GALLERYSKE, New Delhi (2014), ‘Toy Story’, GALLERYSKE, Bangalore (2009), and ‘Gate-crash’, Krinzinger Projekte, Vienna (2008). Recent group exhibitions include ‘Visions from India’, Pizzuti Collection, Columbus (2017), ‘Plus One at India in Focus’, Pittsburg Cultural Trust (2015), Tilton Gallery, New York (2013) ‘Indian Highway’, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2012), ‘Crazy Jane and Jack the Journeyman’, Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna (2011), Prague Biennale (2011), ‘Urban Manners 2’, curated by Adelina Von Furstenberg, ‘Art for The World’ at SESC Pompeia, Sao Paulo (2010), Herning Museum of Contemporary Art, Denmark (2010), Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo (2009), and ‘Still Moving Image’, curated by Deeksha Nath at Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi (2008). In 2009, Veeraraghavan was the recipient of the Illy Sustain Art Prize awarded in Madrid.
For Dia Mehhta Bhupal: Tom Recchion | Untitled This cyclic, experimental track of an artist from 70s Los Angeles makes use of recycled and manipulated sounds to construct a coherent and seemingly melodic piece. A little like Bhupal’s work, in that it makes you reconsider sounds that are “low” and mundane.
For Krishnaraj Chonat: Björk | Cosmogony For this piece the cue was completely visual. The nature in the painting remindedme of the beautiful images of nature in Bjork’s album Biophilia.
For Sheela Gowda: Gaantapasrini Mohubai Kurdikar | Raga Bageshri: Tarana I associate Sheela Gowda’s work to be very rooted in the Indian subcontinent and wanted to use a piece of Hindustani classical music as I also associate her practice with a lot of rigour. I chose a tarana piece from amongst others for its melodic form. This particular piece is vintage and sung by Kishori Amonkar’s mother.
For Prabhavathi Meppayil: Steve Reich | Violin Phase This piece was an instant match, I didn’t have to search. The minimalism of the work resonates with the minimalism of the music. I think the choice is quite self explanatory.
For Sudarshan Shetty: Bayram Bilge Toker| Çamligin Basinda Tüter Bir Tütün I took the lead from the text in the work. We can travel through music, not just geographically but through time too. As I was going through my album list I came across an old favourite that I hadn’t listened to in a really long time. It was amemory of a person I once was many years ago.
Furniture Design | Phantom Hands | response to each work
Phantom Hands is a Bengaluru based ‘Artisan Collective’ comprising woodworkers, cane weavers and upholsterers from traditional craft communities of India. Our modernist furniture designs range from the mid-century inspired Project Chandigarh collection to contemporary objects created in collaboration with designers such as Milan based INODA+SVEJE and Amsterdam based X+L.
For Dia Mehhta Bhupal: Counter Stool Design Period Mid 1960s
For Krishnaraj Chonat: X+L 02 Room Divider X+L Tangali Bench INODA+SVEJE
For Sheela Gowda: Mu?garu Easy Armchair INODA+SVEJE Easy Armchair Design period Mid 1950s Mu?garu Side Table INODA+SVEJE
For Prabhavathi Meppayil: Armless Dining Chair Design Period Mid 1950s
For Sudarshan Shetty: Tangali Day Bed INODA+SVEJE