The Indian subcontinent has a variety of cultures and beliefs throughout with different religions coexisting in the same mass of land. There is no distinct cultural boundary that segregates people, but a gradient that is unique to the region. What would be the impact of defining a nation boundary over the existing natural boundaries of land?
The video Lakeer by Faiz Ahmed Faiz talks about the partition of the Indian subcontinent. The first step of a partition is to define a nation’s boundary. Who decides the shape of the country to come? Is it drawn out with different forms, the best to be selected by a tiny council? How does this imaginary line then manifest into a clear distinction of power and space?
Faiz Ahmed uses a pair of scissors to split the map of the Indian subcontinent, showing how the people at the border face the downsides. The partition system is ever lasting, with quarrels over pieces of lands lasting over centuries. This short video boldly expresses the ever lasting effects of partition of the Indian subcontinent.
Maps are a strategic tool to gain control of land. During the 18th century, the Dutch played a critical role in the development of Sri Lanka. They mapped the lands, renaming places, changing identities, shaping the country in their own legacy.
Pala Pothupitiye’s exhibition Sri Sri Lanka is a collection of crafted maps and sculptures that express the artists inquisition into the country’s history. He believes that the independent country should recreate itself with their own system of knowledge and bring back the ancestry passed on from their forebearers.
Mannar Fort was built by the Portuguese, captured by the Dutch and then the British. The painting ‘Mannar Fort’ is a redone version of the fort, showing the artist’s desire to reshape what is now their home. The painting expresses the history of the country and the major religious elements. The map itself is detailed out with scale, elevations and plans of structures. The black pen pattern visually unites the otherwise distinct components.
This painting uses oil pastels to create a charcoal finish, the black highlighted by the use of lighter background. The two colours are merged together in the painting by the use of shading. The abstract black strokes are finely done, the details clearly visible on a closer look. The precision almost matches that of a fine pen, with even thin strokes. The painting as a whole appears like a night in a sandstorm
This painting reminds me of old wooden doors, with a natural texture and black marks. The painting has a sky blue texture which well contrasts the chaos caused by the black. The black ends to horizontal strokes give the painting a certain depth and an antique look. The use of black in the center seems as though the painting was smudged by hand to enhance the finish quality.
Vasudeo Gaitonde has skillfully used the oil colours to form a fabric texture. The use of darker shades in the center causes a tunneling effect interesting the viewer. The vividness of the strokes give the feeling of a hazy night, with glowing fire posts. An alien patch of white space in the center focuses the viewer’s attention.
The path to Shangri-la is hidden within the peaks of Mount Un. Deep within its reach, beyond the white mists, lies a frozen lake with crystal clear water dispersing the sunlight onto the shore. A tree stands strong in the middle, its roots spreading deep into the frozen lake. A few red leaves cover the thick barks of this mammoth, barely hanging on against the wind. Drained out of my energy, I fell asleep on the warm exposed roots. I didn’t know I found it until I saw it. Huge gold bells lay across the lake, levitating on the surface. They were tied, chained to the ice. I could see them struggling to break loose. I failed to notice the sudden quietness of the wind, the muting of my footsteps. As I moved towards the bell ahead, I realised I was not alone. I could feel my fear, wrath and hate. I could sense the physical presence of my feelings. They were shadows of black, taking mystical ghostly forms, approaching closer to me with each step I took. The engravings on metal were becoming clear, it read ‘Shankar’. The second I touched the bell, I felt all my hate materialise through me, leaving me cold and lifeless. There, I hated myself for everything I had done. Filled with regret, I picked myself up after a few hours, barely able to move a muscle. I had to liberate the bell. My fear was taking a toll on me, growing more intense with time. It was the scariest blankness I had ever felt. I leaped on the chain and pulled it with all my strength. I could see my hate grow stronger, absorbing the colours of the environment, leaving only red behind. I knew I didn’t have much time. I gripped onto the chain, locked my feet on the ground and pulled hard. As my hate moved aggressively towards me, I felt the metal chain bend loose, snapping out of the its own grip. DONG. DONG. The vibrations, as clear as the ripples on water, rose from the bell metal. Unstoppable and incorruptible, they soared through the skies, obliterating the darkness along its path. The skies were once again clear, Shangri-la lost within the inner abyss of self.
This incredible bronze sculpture of Lord Shiva or ‘Nataraja’, the primary Hindu god of creation and destruction, was created over 1000 years ago by the Chola. Chola Dynasty was ascendant from 850 to 1250 CE in Southern India. They were devotional people who built beautiful temples, statues and palaces in honour of the gods. This is a statue of Lord Shiva doing the dance of death or ‘Tandav’, which descirbe his great power and beauty, around a ring of fire. His hair is radiating outward with a idol of Ganga resting on it, the goddess of river Ganga, which descended from Lord Shiva’s hair. Shiv has been depicted with four hands. One hand holds the double-sided drum or ‘Damru’, who’s music restores life, the left most arm(right-side) holds the fire of destruction, and the other two performing the ‘mudra’ or the posture of the dance. He is standing on the a dwarf called Apasmara, who is known to be the dwarf of ignorance. The crown and necklace of Lord Shiva are heavily ornamented, the cresent moon clearly visible at the centre of his crown. Shiva also shelters the snake on his arm as it is believed that Shiva controles all fear and death, hence he wears the dangerous reptile as an ornament. This perfection and deatiled work was cast out of a single piece, the work of a true Chola artist indeed.
The object in the picture seems to be in its raw form. It could be an abstraction of a complicated process or a representation of an activity. There is a transparent cylinder filled with water, with a smaller cylinder of wood immersed in it. Double discs surround the cylinder and are supported by a square stand with rectangular base. The resonance of the basic shapes of each component adds to the simplicity and elegance of the product. The product itself reminds me of the traffic check posts and water pipe locks. Even though the associations of this object indicate a functional character, the object itself seems to be aesthetically appealing and meant as a gift item or show piece. The purpose of the wood piece inside the cylinder seems to be unclear. The water tube is closed with two plastic corks blocking the water from escaping. The screw on top of one of the plastic stoppers must be for directional sense or functional purposes. The blue background chosen for this image has a water texture feeling to it, which makes the product all the more appealing. The exposed natural quality of each wood also adds to the product persona making it desirable.
This is an image of a human with distorted parts and drawers in the torso. The face of the human is covered with his long hair making it impossible to identify the person. The arms and thighs are big and muscular where as the skin suggests old age. The drawers in the abdomen region have some hair like structures dangling out. The fingers of this creature seem strange and disturbing to an extent, like some disease. The person seems to be running away from something and seems to have fallen down due to fatigue.
The image may be protesting against the study of human body or anatomy. Therefore, during the process of opening all the doors of the human body, revealing its mysteries, the person is resisting it. Another interpretation of this image can be that the painting is reflecting upon the human body in the present times. It is full of secrets, which are locked away in drawers making the body miserable and ever restrained. The painting could also be a criticism to the modern world where humans have struggled to organize this world into what they perceive as a system.