Memories of Home

  • Manjula Narayan
  • India
  • Sep 16, 2011

Where would you find a ‘home’ built entirely of cow dung, a mirror that spews red liquid, and a velvet covered commode hanging on the wall? Well, at Home Spun, an art show curated by art critic Girish Shahane, at the Devi Art Foundation.

Featuring the works of 36 artists from India, Pakistan, UK, Sri Lanka, Iran and Oman, Home Spun examines the idea of home. A place of relaxation, a sanctuary, an actual physical space or one that’s locked away in memory, home is where you return both in the flesh and in dreams. The idea of home is real, and of the imagination. And this is what Home Spun examines through painting, sculpture, video projection and film. Giving the show a conceptual backbone, are panels highlighting excerpts from, among others, Joyce’s Ulysses, the writings of Babar, Pink Floyd, the Mahabharata, Arthur C. Clarke and the Kama Sutra.

Among the most thought-provoking works on display, is Subodh Gupta’s My Mother And Me, a single circular home, built from dried cow dung cakes and ash. Entering it and inhaling its vegetal scent instantly transports the viewer to an earlier time. The structure gives the viewer a sense of having journeyed to some recess of his racial memory!

Equally startling is L.N. Tallur’s Panic Room which comprises jute bags, four blowers and a CCTV with a camera. The piece looks innocuous. But stand within the square of jute, and press a button, and the sacks will rise to form a bunker. Suddenly, the art lover is transformed into a young soldier in a war zone, far from home, fearful of the dangers beyond the looming walls of his temporary shelter.

Bani Abidi’s video So He Starts Singing, replays a familiar domestic routine—the recounting of a Hindi film story. Slowly the realisation dawns that she’s recounting a particular story, and every story ever told in Bollywood, with national favourites—the Kapoors of every generation, Mithun Chakraborty and Ajit—making appearances. Abidi manages to make the viewer laugh and think —of the national obsession with storytelling, of Bollywood and our collective yearning for continuity, and of our preference for generations of movie stars from the same gene pool!

Many of the pieces that are part of the show are not monumental—like Rashid Rana’s Desperately Seeking Paradise, a flashing monolith reminiscent of Mumbai’s towers—or serious, like Abbas’ In This There Is a Sign for Those who Reflect, where the walls close in. Home Spun also has much to make you smile—like the plaited broom, an obelisk of steel glasses, weeping spectacles and even a table—holding what look like alcoholic drinks—that lurches drunkenly on its legs. 

Home Spun is a remarkable show, that makes you think about the mundane and the profound, within the idea of home. 

Venue: Devi Art Foundation, Sirpur House, Plot 39, Sector 44, Gurgaon Tel: 0124-4888177

On until 27 December, 2011


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