Marigolds in disarray
Deccan Herald, 23 March 2009
Swapnaa Tamhane, a young artist from Toronto now on research in India, responds to the fate of migrant workers, exploited during boom times and facing an uncertain future in the global meltdown. After a residency at, 1 Shanthi Road Studio/Gallery, her exhibition ‘House of Cards’ (March 6 to 15) offered images evoking this condition and a general feel of things being forcefully but haphazardly constructed and simultaneously destroyed or decaying.
The works created together an environment pointing to diverse aspects and sensations of the state. The most effective formally as well as moving was the video showing a worn out ritual garland of marigolds tossed around by the water of a pier, as if trying to get to the pavement yet only hitting it and drifting away confused in the current, while the traffic sound enhanced the tension.
Without knowing the reference to Hindu labourers in Dubai, one may not have understood the exact meaning here, intuiting it nevertheless on a raw and immediate but universal level. Accompanying it was a vast undulation of live but gradually withering marigolds that looked like sea waves and perhaps landscape, It allowed a tangible, quite carnal and emotively charged intuition of human aspirations along perhaps with a nostalgia for the homeland. Three other works focussed on the oscillation between the desire to build domestic spaces and their fragility, between ambitious urban projects in their implementing and the chaos brought by reality or stoppages, between the fine harmony of solid structures and the harshness of their disembowelled condition when taken down.
The two large photographs in a close-up of walls under reconstruction gave an intimately aesthetic as well as touching impact. A pile of playing card-size photographs made a shaky multi-storied apartment, its faces mixing and blending sights of structures and scaffoldings with drawing fragments in which linear grids alluded to both architectural meshes and one from organic growth or veins and nerves. Although cultured and evident in its content, it acted mainly on the cerebral plane.
- Marta Jakimowicz