Immersions: The White Cube Project is the brainchild of Deeksha Nath. Trained as an art historian, Nath’s handling of Still Moving Image, the debut exhibition at the Devi Art Foundation last year, gave her sufficient kudos to be invited by Anant Art
Gallery to curate this ambitious show, a commendable initiative considering the limited commercial potential the work.
Installation work by Archana Hande
As the title suggests, the idea of the show is to challenge the traditional preconceptions of the gallery as a white cube. Thus the artists were invited to transform a particular space within the gallery into an environment that would immerse the viewer in some way.
Most of the artists selected by Nath have established careers working with large-scale multimedia art. An exception is Atul Bhalla, whose recent show at Aicon Gallery in London Nath curated. His photographic installation, which surrounds the viewer with a wall of flesh, is constructed from giant images of Bhalla’s naked body. For the work he shaved his body of all its hair, photographing himself at different stages of the process. Highly magnified close-ups or studies of particular parts of his anatomy, the photographs function on a number of levels, at once a corporeal abstraction as well as a highly personal performative record which, like so much of Bhalla’s work, strips away the defences, emphasizing the vulnerability and physicality of his practice.
Nivedita Deshpande’s work was an obvious inclusion. Her site-specific hanging sculptures claim the entirety of the space using light and shadow. Bangalore-based Navin Thomas uses etched black mirror glass to draw the viewer into a reflected reality, the work acting as a commentary on the ubiquity of black screens in our technology-fixated lives. The absurdities of modern living are also engaged by Chinmoy Pramanick’s Facebook news feed rendered as a giant roll of tissue paper and Kausik Mukhopadhyay’s nonsense-spewing word machine.
Sound is the immersive element used by Baptist Coelho in two works looking at public and private spaces, while both Archana Hande and Dilip Chobisa have created rooms within rooms, hers a spoof marriage bureau, his an illusory space challenging perceptions of volume and material.
While some of the works come closer than others to expressing the idea of immersion, the show nevertheless provides a fascinating opportunity to see a side of Indian contemporary art emerging outside of commercial art galleries and international auction rooms.
Immersions: The White Cube Project will show at the Anant Art Gallery, F-213 B, Lado Sarai, New Delhi from 18 April to 23 May