Gallery Seven’s current group show features artists from disparate disciplines brought together to express a common issue of social and political concern. Curated by Heidi Fichtner, the show explores the manner in which the state exercises control over the individual through the design of built environment and public spaces.
In exploring this broadly Foucauldian set of concerns, artists Tejal Shah and Varsha Nair collaborate on a series of digital prints that tellingly narrate the loneliness of individuals caught in the straitjacketed existence of an urban life. Prayas Abhinav, on the other hand, presents a video installation titled “Breaking a wall is like breaking silence,” which symbolizes the breakdown of spaces of authority through the breaking down of a wall.
Sapna Tamhane extends that line of thinking by challenging the existence of authority itself. She does this by taking photographs of aspects of public places that are usually disregarded and thus invisible to most. The airport - a place of intense public scrutiny, is taken up by the artist through her photographs depicting the empty luggage terminals, deserted waiting rooms, and inactive wall-mounted cameras. We are made incisively aware of just how much our behavior in such places is governed by the laws of surveillance. The show also presents a few of Tamhane’s hyper-realist drawings that depict in minute detail close-ups of various elements in the process of destruction.
Riyas Komu’s take on the show’s concept is a triptych titled “Expressions at Tihar,” which features the practice of surveillance enforced by the authorities upon the prisoners of that notorious jail - essentially a straightforward take on Foucault’s explanation of the Panopticon.
One of the most interesting pieces in the exhibition is artist Asim Waqif’s video of a site-specific installation, which explores the impact of abandoned and deteriorating buildings on the ecology of the surrounding environments. More provocative was the tongue-in-cheek observation of the artist, who explained how these broken-down buildings were deliberate measures by the state to invoke fear and maintain authority.
-- Natasha Baruah
(Images courtesy of Seven Art Limited and the Artists.)