Vadehra Art Gallery presents ‘Apna Ghar’ an exhibition featuring the works of Chandan Gomes, Nishtha Jain, Vicky Roy and Samudra Kajal Saikia.
Based out of the two largest metropolitan cities in India, Mumbai and Delhi, these four artists investigate the concept of ‘ghar’ through a series of works that unhinge the popular notion of the home being an exclusive private domain. The works attempt to dismantle this easy definition and address the complex set of rituals, relationships and processes that go into making a home of one’s own. The exhibition brings together particular projects that have emerged out of the artists’ acts of re-looking and documenting their own lives, in relation to daily rituals, everyday spaces, people they share their lives with, and contemporary conditions of livelihood. In a way these are equally internal and external processes of looking. How is the idea of ‘home’ or ‘ghar’ conceived? What kinds of spaces are we addressing here? In other words these works are journeys made by the artists that have led to the uncovering of underlying connection between people, with objects and spaces, and everything else which make up one’s ghar; a journey leading to moments of self-discovery, anxiety and reassurance.
Curatorially this show started out in a rather organic manner, with the photographic works of Vicky Roy and Chandan Gomes setting the initial frameworks. Both photographers had been working around the concept of documenting their homes – in the case of Roy it was a series that gives an insider’s perspective into the daily lives of the boys at Salaam Balak Trust, a home for street children in Delhi where he grew up, and for Gomes it was a return to his parent’s modest house in old Delhi as an adult and a photographer. Vicky Roy’s photographs are poignant frames in black and white that draw out the characteristics of what makes this temporary space a home - from the daily rituals of cleaning, studying and common dining, to curious portraits of young boys on the brink of adulthood sharing their lives. Chandan Gomes’ cluttered and colourful interior offers a different perspective. Brimming with objects and devoid of people it tells a very personal story about the people who live there, their likes, obsessions, habits and beliefs, through the inanimate objects that populates their home.
Extending these camera conversations is the film by Nishtha Jain, a Mumbai-based filmmaker. Her self-critical documentary, ‘Lakshmi and Me’, offers a nuanced look at her home as a shared space. This film on the life of the young girl who works at her house, and the unexpected new bond that develops over the period of making this film, puts forth a new set of questions about the invisible imprints of the people and events that makes one’s house a home. The film also throws up questions about class and social behaviour in India. On a similar political note is the work of Samudra Kajal Saikia, whose project ‘Disposable House’ has been an ongoing effort to engage with questions of home as space, as security, as ritual, and as disposable and sustainable. Working across mediums like poetry, artists books, videos, paintings and performances, Saikia’s work moves away from the purely personal into looking at home and home-making as a political and social act. In his work the disposable house becomes a metaphor for security at a time of increased migration, displacement, and mobility.
It is Vadehra Art Gallery’s vision to incorporate new voices from the contemporary and curate artists/works which speak from today’s perspective, and we are pleased to introduce three new artists to our list – Nishtha Jain, Chandan Gomes and Samudra Kajal Saikia. Vicky Roy was part of our earlier photography show ‘Click! Contemporary Photography in India’ (2008) and is showing with us for the second time.
Chandan Gomes takes photographs for a living. At 23, he became the youngest recipient of the prestigious India Habitat Centre Fellowship for Photography in 2011. Photographs from his awarded essay were a part of the Inaugural Delhi Photo Festival. His first photo book is due for release in late ’12. Chandan has done his Bachelors in Philosophy from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi (batch ’09).
Nishtha Jain graduated from Jamia Mass Communication Centre, Delhi and did her specialization in film direction from the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune in 1998. Since then she’s been working as an independent filmmaker and lives in Mumbai. Through her films, she has explored the theme of self-representation in photography, tackled the issues of dignity of labour and documented women’s struggles for social change. Her work emphasizes her subjective gaze and lingers on the quotidian. Her films include the critically acclaimed ‘City of Photos’ (2005) which explores the fantasy worlds of street-side photo studios and the much acclaimed ‘Lakshmi and Me’ (2008) which explores the symbiotic roles of mistress and maid, filmmaker and subject, speaker and listener to raise key global issues as diverse as the politics of domesticity, gender and class relations, ethics and documentary.
Originally from Bengal, Vicky Roy reached Delhi at a very young age. A graduate of the Salaam Baalak Trust (SBT), he studied photography at Triveni Kala Sangam and then apprenticed with Anay Mann. In 2007, he held his first solo exhibition titled, ‘Street Dream’ at India Habitat Centre; supported by British High Commission. Selected works from the show were exhibited at the South Hampton Gallery in 2007; followed by a touring exhibition organized by Department for International Development (DFID), U.K. in 2009. In 2008, Ramchander Nath Foundation (RNF) nominated Vicky for a mentorship program, for which he was selected by the US based Maybach Foundation wherein he photo-documented the reconstruction of the World Trade Center in New York, from March to August 2009. On his return, a solo show titled, ‘WTC: Now’ was held at Bodhi Art, Mumbai; supported by Asia Society and American Center.
Samudra Kajal Saikia is an artist and writer working in multidisciplinary fields including performance, theatre, video, animation and public art. Samudra is a master of Visual Arts, specialized in Art History, and the Creative Director of Kathputlee Arts and Films, New Delhi. He is engaged in a self-driven theatrical practice coined as the ‘Disposable Theatre’ that works in the multidisciplinary paradigms. As the recipient of FICA Public Art Grant for 2010, he is mobilizing a multilayered public art project "Disposable House: the imagery of HOUSE in individual and collective memories". Being a practitioner of multidisciplinary practices of art and theory his artistic interest lies in the problematics of locating the conceptual ‘spectator’. Having a family background of a theatre practitioners, going through an academic background of art history in two major institutions like Santiniketan (BFA) and Baroda (MVA) , and working in some other technical/ commercial/ popular idioms like animation, public performances, Samudra owes a diversified experience in the art practice and art writing.