In separate incidents, two young boys run away from home. One runs away from his hometown in West Bengal and adopts a shelter in Delhi as his own, only to leave it when he’s 18. The other leaves his home in Old Delhi right after college to distance himself from his middle-class roots. A few years later, they revisit their homes—in the first case, the shelter—to capture them through photographs.
These two form the crux of Apna Ghar, a forthcoming exhibition of photographs and other media that seeks to explore the idea of home. Vicky Roy, 24, who has documented his shelter home in Delhi, and Chandan Gomes, 24, with an intimate capture of middle-class objects in his modest Old Delhi home, are joined by Mumbai-based film-maker Nishtha Jain and multimedia artist Samudra Kajal Saikia.
Jain focuses on the concept of shared space through her documentary Lakshmi And Me. Saikia’s project, Disposable House, which straddles performance, painting and video, makes a political comment on the home, looking at it as a metaphor for security in a time of migration and displacement.
“The theme of ‘home’ is increasingly becoming an important point of discussion in the works of artists all over the world—it is related to the idea of private space and linked to one’s identity and self-definition,” says Vidya Shivdas, co-curator for the show that opens on Tuesday in New Delhi. “The four artists in the show dismantle easy definitions of the idea of home and really investigate the complex set of rituals, relationships and processes that go into making a home of one’s own,” she adds.
Most of the projects are centred on the homes of the artists themselves. Gomes’ frames are a slice of middle-class India a lot of children in his generation would be familiar with. Focusing merely on the objects to tell the story of his home—and his generation—Gomes says his work “moves from the particular to the general”. “There’s this photo of my mother’s kitchen with the photo on the window where you can see the oil bleeding on the wall, there’s one of a washbasin with utensils hanging on the side, there’s another one with my grandfather’s frame right next to a few more utensils. These are all objects that give an understanding about the aesthetics of middle-class spaces,” he says.
As a contrast is Roy’s work that moves from the general to the particular. The photos are typical images from shelter homes anywhere in the country—children watching TV together, another frame with a boy holding a mop doing his assigned work for the day. But through those general images, there is a particularity that tells his story. “Vicky’s portraits demonstrate a kind of interiority in the boys that you rarely see in other pictures of this genre. They are not unidimensional,” says Bhooma Padmanabhan, the second curator for the show.
In fact, the intimacy with the subject is present in all the works, Padmanabhan adds. “There is this insider-outsider dialectic in all the works which is wonderful—these are not grand statements but really empathetic personal engagements where the artist is very much also the subject of his/her work.”
Apna Ghar will be on from 9 October-1 November, 11am-7pm, at the Vadehra Art Gallery, D-53, Defence Colony, New Delhi.