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Business News/ Lounge / Art And Culture/  Artists respond to notions of time and space in the show ‘Liminal Gaps’

Artists respond to notions of time and space in the show ‘Liminal Gaps’

Four multidisciplinary artists view culture and identity through the lens of time in the group show, ‘Liminal Gaps’, at the NMACC

Afrah Shafiq, 'Sultana's Reality' (2017)Premium
Afrah Shafiq, 'Sultana's Reality' (2017)

The first floor of the Art House at the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre (NMACC) opens up to a large display of Ayesha Singh’s Hybrid Drawings. The installation is playful—the three-dimensional drawing reimagining the country’s distinctive skyline. Singh is one of the four interdisciplinary and conceptual artists showcasing their works at the show ‘Liminal Gaps’ at the NMACC. The group show, which also includes Raqs Media Collective, Asim Waqif and Afrah Shafiq, has been curated by Mafalda Millies Kahane and Roya Sachs, with executive production by Elizabeth Edelman Sachs from the international creative house TRIADIC.

A note from the curators states that liminality is a transitory term referring to thresholds, being on the verge of something new but not quite there yet, a feeling of uncertainty in between phases—the notion of passing through. “Whilst each floor showcases an entire separate installation, all four artists and works explore Indian culture and identity through these described capsules of time, straddling between one moment and the next. What we are left with is four liminal spaces that feel entirely separate but also completely intertwined in their themes and how audiences navigate them," states the note.

The curators’ words ring true as one navigates through Singh’s three-dimensional drawing. Collapsing the rules of architecture, the Delhi-based artist has interpreted liminality in relation to the alteration of history. “I began to consider spaces where action and inaction exist in simultaneity, and in constant redefinition," she says. Her installation combines spaces from a city or country’s familiar or collective history through the architectural reimagining of disjunctures as continuous sculptural line-drawings. The play of light and shadows adds another dimension.

Also read: Newer readings of K.G. Subramanyan's legacy

Ayesha Singh, 'Hybrid Drawings' (2023)
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Ayesha Singh, 'Hybrid Drawings' (2023)

Time seems to stop, or rather gain another dimension, on the second floor, which features works by the Raqs Media Collective. One can see 27 nearly-identical clocks in Escapement, each of which corresponds to a city—real or imaginary. Clocks of three imaginary cities—Kishkindha, Atlantis, and Babel—run backwards, thus mirroring real time. Rather than marked by hours, the timepieces are stamped with emotions such as epiphany, fear, awe, fatigue and indifference, among others.

In Night & Day, Day and Night / रात और दिन, दिन और रात, a 24-hour clock sees digits displaced with words in the Devanagari script relating to varying scales of time. Words such aspran (life),tithi (date),ritu (season), express various notions of time. An Augmented Reality work of abstract geometric figures called Be-Taal/ बे-ताल brings to question what is real in our tactile world, versus what exists in a digital reality. “All these works can be seen as forms of talking about, or to, time. We can say that time is a thread, a conversation, a motif, that runs through all of them," mentions a statement by Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta, founders, the Raqs Media Collective.

Also read: Artists from the Indian diaspora make a mark at the Venice Biennale

The third and fourth floors are taken up by artists Asim Waqif from Delhi and Mumbai-based Afrah Shafiq respectively. In the former’s site-specific bamboo structure, titled Chaal, viewers are encouraged to walk around and in between a structure that resembles a weaver bird’s nest. Waqif’s work deals with ideas of ecology, sustainability and anthropology. On the floor above, Shafiq is concerned with women’s writings and history. Her work, Sultana’s Reality, harks back to the time she came across writer Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossein’s book Sultana’s Dream and the “many expansive and snarky ideas" of “how much nicer a world could be if they invest wealth in gardens and fruit or the recognition that the men just spend hours in the office smoking and acting important but not much was getting done."

The tactile experience of reading some of the women’s writings on display, and a video which plays out like a computer game, brings viewers closer to the inner lives of the first generation of women to be educated in pre-Independence India. In the curators’ words,Liminal Gaps celebrates what Indian culture represented yesterday, but also what it could look like tomorrow.

‘Liminal Gaps’ is on display at the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre, Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai till 9 June, 2024.


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Published: 16 May 2024, 05:00 PM IST
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