Contested Spaces

One  of the most contested spaces according to me is the space of sexuality. It could be either in our minds or the minds of society as a whole. But what I would like to talk about is how we contest about our sexuality within ourselves. How do you know who you truly are? We have to figure it out. But how do you figure something like this out when you live in a society where you are scrutinized and judged based on every single move you make. I personally luckily am sure of my sexuality but saw a very close friend of mine go through this. To be put into a box where one doesn’t know what one is supposed to be and is confused but everyone around is trying to figure it out and put labels on that person. HOW can one win that contest? Where do the lines blur. Does one look at what is right or does one feel and go after that feeling. It is a constant battle with your thoughts and feelings. Those of us who have it figured out, were the lucky bunch. We do not know what this contest is like. IS there even a win? A world filled with so much judgment and expectation how does one be who he/she is openly and is the world even liberal enough and is a person even strong enough to dare figure his sexuality? I think the contest itself is the win. Because at least that means one has dared to feel and is battling to find his true sexuality and who he really is. That itself is a big win.

 

Shells – The Poetics of space

Through this chapter we see how the shell is perceived in so many different ways. The shell is so hard and so clear but most times it is difficult to understand it. After examining the shell world, imagination is defeated by reality. It is spoken of how the formation is mysterious and not the form. A quote from this chapter continues to intrigue me; “One must live to build ones house and not build ones house to live in”. What intrigues me is the continuous debate of the shell. How they are inhabited or uninhabited and how someone can live inside a shell. Can the shell be a code for all the safety and comfort zones we move into when we feel danger or the fear of the unknown? I guess philosophy leaves it all open to interpretation. How does something big come out from something so small? Why have we never thought of it before. A creature however never fully comes out from the shell. Thats what is so contradictory the part that comes out vs the part thats on the inside. Do we ever show our whole self? Is there always some part of us thats always inside a shell? However the voice in this chapter suddenly changes. It is the fear of the unknown. Is what is inside a shell scarier and more dreaded or is it something to be pitied? A quote from this essay caught my eye immediately. “Wolves in shell are crueler than stray ones” Through this essay you get to see different perspectives at the insignificant things and thats what makes it so much more interesting. It is also spoken about how the shell becomes incapable of moving when the part that gives it life leaves. What is also talked about is how snails build their house in the shell and thus wherever they are, they’re always at home. And how the shell gives a space to be withdrawn and in full and deep secret away from everything. we get to experience and perceive something so small and sometimes what seems insignificant in so many different ways.

The border

“Borders are the scars of history”

 

We see borders everywhere be it in terms of religion, spaces, social status, family, friends, caste and between countries. But the most troublesome of this whole idea of borders is that Borders exist more than in actuality in the minds of most people. The form of “Dividing people” is the fundamental of a border. What we see through the short film is without any form of narration or a voiceover of some sort, is a pretty self-explanatory range of visuals. The visuals are only in black and white and mostly consist of the process of making the border and how randomly it is drawn. It shows us that there was no real meaning behind drawing the borders; can a border be that frivolous that It can be drawn by anyone? The second half of the movie proceeds to the cutting of a map. The repeated cutting of state after state shows how small our country is becoming because of this constant battle of what is under which territory. Who decides these borders? Who differentiates? WHY do people differentiate? These are a lot of questions that lie in my mind after seeing this film. The film however has strong visuals and through just five short minutes manages to convey a message pretty clearly. A quote I read recently related to this intrigued me quite a bit.

 

“A border is an imaginary line between two states, separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary rights of another

Peter Brook’s Mahabharata

I happen to be an Indian who is immersed in this greatest of all epics. Was I impressed by Peter Brook’s film? No. Brook’s film is not a portrayal of a titanic clash between the forces of good and evil, which is the stuff of the epic. Nor is it even the depiction of the struggle for Empire that sucks into its whirlwind armies from outside India’s borders, spanning far more than the land between the two rivers Ganga and Yamuna. It is not even a picture of a battle of princes. I truly am confused as to what we really do see in the movie at all. To me It was humbling but extremely conflicted in its approach. I read somewhere that Brook took 10 years to complete this film and do it justice. I was confused as to why he used certain characters to play each of the legends in the Mahabharata. I don’t think the actors did justice to the film and its characters. I was very confused why it was full of people from all races; if it was out to send a message the message wasn’t too clear. What we can appreciate is that people world over are taking interest in our epics and trying to do it justice by using different approaches and its probably our pre conceived notions of how grand a Mahabharata set is supposed to be that probably is my personal bias preventing me from seeing the movie in the lens it is supposed to be viewed with. I think he stayed too confined in a westernized dramatic paradigm to appeal to those audiences; it lacks being a representation of the “unknown orient”.

STATE OF ARCHITECTURE

I never knew that the State of Architecture could be something that could ever interest me, but walking to that exhibit I couldn’t help but want to be part of that culture of architecture. I kept having doubts in my head, some seemed silly some relevant. But to me the main and most important thing was that it got me thinking and that’s something only a successful exhibit can do. Get people thinking about something they might not be completely inclined towards. The space was organized beautifully. The ground level telling us about the statistics that helped in the research, the various books organized in a timeline talking about architecture and forming an archive, as well as the wall filled with magazines of architectures past. The books were kept in a glass enclosure organized as a timeline and giving that space that much importance keeping it enclosed. The magazines were a wall print showing the different kinds also through a different kind of timeline. It gave the wall a whole other dimension and forced our eyes towards it. While current architecture magazines remained under with the physical copies free for read. The 2nd level had some of the important public buildings organized through again another timeline we could walk through while some of the walls had highlighted buildings printed onto them giving us a sense of how important so many structures are in India. What also interested me a great deal are the walls and the typography being color coordinated and color blocked per level, it gave the space a welcoming feel to it and made it pleasing to look through. The specially designed furniture added an insane dimension to the space and something we couldn’t keep our eyes off. But what really stole my heart was the top floor. The wall made of paper folded cubes with information on buildings with the mechanism of opening and shutting was extraordinary. It added a somewhat humble yet oddly overpowering layer to this whole exhibit. I wanted to walk through that whole section innumerable times and just absorb that space in its entirety. What was even better was how it used the space it gave that feeling of being sucked into and cramped and it just consumed us completely.

AYNEH/The Mirror 1997

 

The film follows a young girl, in first grade. The story begins with the school being finished and all the girls leaving for the day. This girl remains behind waiting for her mother. The girl doesn’t feel handicapped by her arm in a plaster and she accepts a ride on a scooter by a relative of a teacher to drop her off at the bus stop. Things of course don’t go easy for her. The use of space is interesting because it’s the cityscape. She goes up and down the same and different routes trying to leach on to whoever might help her while holding her independent side.Her journey takes a surprising turn when the young girl simply stops acting and decides to go home, she is not in character anymore but her problems are still the same, as she has to reach home.

Where the movie surprises and differs from what we are used to is when the fourth wall shatters unexpectedly half way through the film. We suddenly go into the present time space of the movie, the young girl stops speaking for a short moment and we hear the director’s voice giving her the instruction to not look at the camera. This is very unusual and at first we think this just might be a blooper, but this is what the “film” becomes then and its probably the reason we are studying it today.

It really puzzled me at first but I think it is such a powerful method. Whether this was really a whim of the young actress or actually scripted Is something that can definitely be put up for debate but the authenticity would be tough to act out. It seemed so real and in the moment and the fact that we knew it was her real journey in the present space of time was what kept us gripped all along. We travelled with her as she could remember vivid descriptions of the place she called home but no real names of the same. Even if it was scripted it was a genius idea. If it wasn’t it are not only great circumstances but great recover of the movie. I don’t really think it matters whether it was scripted or not and that’s not what I would judge the movie it just keeps us all the more perplexed throughout and we start empathizing with the character even more. Whether it’s Mina or the Little Girl, her path to find home is a trip in itself, the movie exploring once again the factor of human relations and how some people can be helpful and generous while others could look past a young girl as well.

The downfall of the movie according to most people would be that reality meant bad camera shots and not clear filming because the crew was in a bus following the little girl who was rushing against time riding around town to find her way home. Therefore we sometimes lose track of her, fortunately keeping in touch with Mina through her microphone, which also goes through issues. However the issue of the microphone still remains as to why she never removed it if she was truly done with the film. I’m no cynic here but just a skeptic rationalist. The movie has no great quotes, no great twists or a beautiful touching ending,It is simply a journey where the reality has been an Ayenah of   the fiction. I would actually think it to be better if we never knew whether it was all intended from the start, as I like the mystery. I like the fourth wall going down in this unanticipated manner.

Sri Sri Lanka

JAFFNA FORT, JAFFNA.

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Looking at this piece of art holistically, its honestly so beautifully intriguing. It’s such a simple idea, something so basic as a Map, turned into something with so much history and meaning. The artist has taken maps of Sri Lanka and used that whole space in the artwork to beautify this basic map and make it tell a story of so much more. The colors are so simplistic and complimenting like the turquoise blue and orange along with touches of grey. They all make the white space so comfortable. What’s most interesting to me is the addition of Hanuman, so confident, so behemoth and so bold. He’s striding along painted in colors of green, red, blue and gold looking powerful as ever carrying the mountain on his single palm. His relevance is our immediate remembrance to the mythological tale of the Ramayana and the triumph of good over evil as they call it. The shapes used to convey the map are also extremely interesting to me and the graphics to portray the artwork. The map of the fort lies in the center with the graphics and maps of the surroundings residing over the borders of the painting.

PERFORMANCE ART

PERFORMANCE ART

Performance is a genre in which art is presented “live,” usually by the artist but sometimes with collaborators.

Performance art is highly reliant on on the three foundations, time, space and audience. The absenteeism of any one of the three makes thereby make the performance a failure. The ‘performer’ is the one responsible for this trio. The performance is his, the audience is whom HE invites and the base and time is what he chooses at his convenience.

The performance might be completely prearranged or impulsive. We gather that from the reaction of the audience and the space where it is performed. However the beauty of performance art is that according to me when it is truly successful is when there is an element of spontaneity in the performers act.

Shoot (1971)

Artist: Chris Burden

In many of his early 1970s performance pieces, Burden put himself in danger during a particular performance. This would then put the viewer in a challenging position.

The audience would be caught between a humanitarian instinct to intrude versus the offense of touching and interacting with artworks.

To perform Shoot, Burden stood in front of a wall while one friend shot him in the arm with a .22 long rifle, and another friend documented the event with a camera.

It was performed in front of a small, private audience. One of Burden’s most infamous and powerful performances, it hints upon the idea of martyrdom, and the notion that the artist may play a role in society as a kind of victim.

It might also speak to issues of gun control and this is extremely relevant to the period of time it took place in which is that of the Vietnam War.

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Spaces and Art works

The Scream: Edvard Munch

 

This is a painting that has always fascinated me to a large extent. Its simplicity overwhelms me and I’ve always looked at it in terms of how much it expresses. Being an early expressionist painter, he not only expresses his innermost insanity and anxiety through the expression on the face but the exaggerated brush strokes add a great sense of value. Its almost like the expression wouldn’t express itself if the space around it didn’t add as a catalyst. The equation formed by the expression on the face of the person screaming as well as the brush strokes with bright colors of the surrounding areas are what make it a special equation and bring the painting together. Its almost like one would not survive without the other because the character compliments the space and the space compliments the character to a large extent. The style is so simplistic yet complex. You get every small bit of information through the painting for example the time of day. So much of the space in the painting is the scenery of the merging of land and water whereas such little emphasis is given to the characters at the further back. Being an expression oriented painting its almost comic how the entire space adds to the expression on the characters face. On a deeper level you could say its our surroundings that arouse a reaction in us or the surroundings seem like what we feel, we shape the space around us according to our mood as much as the space around us affects our mood. While an evening out walking by the water might sound relaxing and enjoyable at first, on closer look we see that Munch is really describing a moment of an almost existential personal crisis. In the painting’s background, we can see two people walking away in the other direction, which could probably be society walking away from him, creating the feelings of isolation and “fear”. In the manner of a true Expressionist painter, Munch uses color to express his emotional reactions to his environment (space), commenting on the “red” sky and the “bluish black”, described almost as an all-consuming black hole hell.

By manipulating the space in an artwork the artist gives us a sneak peak into the 3 dimensional world of his even in his flat surfaces we see depth.

 

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Merged Spaces

Times Square and Riley’s mind from Inside Out

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She found herself in the middle of it all.  Drums beat in the distance. The need to figure herself out wanders around with urgency. Emotions loom overhead.   Thoughts buzz with enjoyment.  Days race by skimming their fingertips.  They screech to a halt for potential passengers. The inside of her head is desperately trying to figure out what is going on.  The traffic light turns green.

Its go time. The zig zag left her perplexed.  She dodged in between the streets making her way across to the oasis of sidewalk. What place is this? Horns honk.  The pink train stops. Lights blink; red, blue, green, yellow. The primary of it all.

The colorful space made her feel inside out. Her emotions and memories displayed on every board, blinking and reminding her of her confusion. Thoughts scramble.  She scurries to the other side making it safely.  The light turns red. Now she can think. Surrounded by neon lights, giant billboards, emotions and thoughts, she felt so lost in that brightness, in that big space. This place stole her heart. What topped it all for her was that staircase. Each step changed with her feelings and moods. Where was she? Where is she? The view sure looked good. She felt like she was in the heart of some city but she’d know better if she used her mind. It was all inside of her. Well maybe inside out.