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Metaphysical Gravity, a solo exhibition of installation, video and kinetic sculpture by Tahireh Lal refers to the invisible forces at work in the embodied experience of trans national migration. Through self-reflexive praxis, Lal contemplates the idea of home in the context of contemporary mobility. Alluding to one of the arguments of the mobilities paradigm i.e., any mobility has its immobile counterpart; she views movement and stasis as mutually coexistent.
Whilst the word ‘bird’ may signify “movement that is not limited by boundaries,” Bird: B3:d B3:rd highlights the challenge of communication in the multicultural context. A recorded audio loop of people with multifarious accents uttering the word ‘bird,’ serves to highlight differences in people’s perception of familiarity and strangeness in the urban environment.
Lal’s material and conceptual experiments with sand emerge from a walk on the beaches of Toronto Island where the colour variation in the sand caught the artist’s attention. Creating symbolic patterns using the sand, Abundance Protected appropriates kolam drawing, a ritual culturally familiar to the artist, to invoke protection for the homes of Toronto Island under threat from municipal authorities. When a resident of the island suggested she “throw a magnet into the sand,” the artist launched an investigation into the push/pull forces of magnets.
The installation Sandcastles in the Air animates sand along a vertical axis. Multiple relays trigger periodic activation of magnetic forces, rendering iron particles in the sand to form delicate sandcastles. These fragile entities comment on the building of homes and the invisible forces of desire to be upwardly mobile. Meditating on the gradually evolving forms, The Hourglass reflects on the nature of time. Within a rotating hourglass, sand flows from one chamber to the other. However, magnetic forces hold part of the sand in permanent suspension; thereby remarking on the conflict between lived time and clock time in one’s experience of new and unfamiliar environments. When sifting sand through a screen, Lal observes the simultaneous agitation and settling of sand. The dual video projection Sifting/Shifting, refers to mobility and the accompanying process of quiet percolation; the process by which new environments become familiar.
Metaphysical Gravity is a phrase chanced upon by the artist as graffiti on a wall in downtown Toronto. Originally a quote from architect Buckminster Fuller, Lal appropriates it to express the push pull forces of magnetism and the nature of home.
Tahireh Lal’s artwork has featured at film festivals and in galleries both in India and at international events such as the Videonale in Bonne, Germany and Nuit Blanche in Toronto, Canada. She received her Master’s in Fine Arts from the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD), University in Toronto, Canada. The OCAD University India Scholarship funded her graduate work. She completed her undergraduate education with distinction at the Srishti School of Art Design and Technology in Bangalore, India. She currently runs her art practice out of Koliabur, Assam and Bangalore and is also visiting faculty at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore.
The artist would like to acknowledge Simone Jones and Paulette Phillips in the development of these works.