02/32, Kamal Mansion, 2nd floor, Arthur Bunder Road, Colaba, 400 005 Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Imagine that Time was born wearing a frock, morphing, as he grows older, into a dress, then a gown. The frock is simple, the dress has a few studs and some intricate cuts, and the gown is bedecked with lace and beads and zippers—all the frills that a society will impose upon that which began simply with itself.
The Sidereal is that tangential reality at the centre of the circle of Time had the frock not turned into a gown: On the Sidereal ponders the nature of Time were it stripped of the value that today’s consumerist society imposes on it.
But would Time exist in the first place without a human mind? St. Augustine suggests that the beginning of Time corresponded with the beginning of Man, when He conceptualized it. Would the frock too disappear, leaving behind a naked body? The show, in conceptual, mathematical and quirky ways, attempts to deconstruct the nature of Time, of Void and of Circularity.
Does Time disappear when we do not ‘know’ it, or does it turn nostalgic, and return to its essentialist self? How does one separate Time that is ‘useful’ and ‘dreamtime’? All six artists, ironically, take up the idea of the Ouroboros, or self-reflexivity, in unique ways. Time, they seem to imply, this way or that, exists if you’re aware of it: 'If all time is eternally present, All time is unredeemable,' Burnt Norton, T.S. Eliot.
Tahireh Lal’s video, which returns to the elemental, charts the parts of a clock swimming in a magma. A raw tautness between the constructed and the natural, and between science and the ‘beautiful’ is synthesized. The Sidereal, he seems to say, has two elements: the perishable and the imperishable.
Kiran Subbiah’s Studio Sidereal addresses the art world, which has been stripped of its essential inspiration and produces work as dully as an operator at his desk. A black machine, if you will, a vicious grey circle.
Amitabh Kumar’s ‘projectile prophesies’ refer most directly to the idea of the self-reflexive ‘Ouroboros,’ in his drawing of a purple reptile with a head for a head, and a head for a tail. The past, present and future seem to be contained in a single being, the future being a mere replica of the past. He constructs a satirical story that tells a tale of The Prophesaurs and their obsession with controlling Time. In order to really control it, he suggests, one must be free of it entirely.
Eelco Waagenaar’s Duality’s of Time; a Triptych divides a single space into equal two’s 'blowing equal amounts of air into both the zones.' Shadows reflect each other, and a single kite, tied to the hands of the ‘fan-clock’ drags time, as a lag. On the other side, time seems to go by faster, although the variables are the same. 'With time made open to an alchemical manipulation and transformation, space invariably will be persuaded to take on other contours as well,' explains the curator.
A poster called ‘Artist as System Engineer’ hangs on the wall, completing the triptych. It attempts to reconcile the worlds of technology and art, and in a sense, it becomes self-reflexive of the entire show, a wall text that describes the aim of the residency as a whole.
Umesh PN’s sculptures each form laterally identical compositions: a hanger on both sides, sunlight in the sky reflected upon water and a broom as a protractor, equal on both sides from the middle.
Prayas Abhinav’s randomized text reflects itself on an acrylic screen, borrowed from the Jungian concept of synchronous time: 'another pattern is apparent (and all narrative is fiction) Our experience of time is fractured. Like a piece of broken glass reflecting light in an infinite loop, hypertexts are created in each living moment.'
And so are these circular pieces created at the culmination of a nine-day residency on the Sidereal. As conceptual, wacky, bizarre and even indulgent the art is, the admirable aspect is the desire and courage to delve into a subject as abstract and sublime as Time. After all, it is only in those hidden worlds of magical creatures and kites and dark nights filled with talking stars that we may shed the bling from our gowns, and return to our original selves, the O in Ouroboros, where Time or No Time, we’re not in a hurry.
-- Himali Singh Soin
(All images courtesy of The Guild and the artists.)