For his fourth solo exhibition at GALLERYSKE Sreshta Rit Premnath presents a new body of work entitled Plot. The exhibition is comprised of ten vinyl banners, an aluminum and linen wall relief, a concrete wall relief and three video loops.
Plot is also the title of the series of ten narrow, six-foot tall vinyl banners that drape onto the gallery’s floor. Each banner displays a wooden folding ruler bent into a different configuration within a sandbox. The Imperial ruler, which functions as an arbitrary law by which the physical world is measured, itself bears the trace of bodily units: the inch is a thumb, the foot is the length of a foot, and it spans six feet. This prone “figure” employs the sandbox as a site for rearrangement, while simultaneously describing the site through its measurements. The sand in turn becomes a bodily substrate that collects memory impressions.
Gradient consists of six, leaning, aluminum bars painted in a gradient from Chroma Key Blue to Chroma Key Green. The bars are arranged in pairs, each holding a sheet of bleached linen that drapes onto the floor, not unlike the prints that make up Plot. Chroma Key Blue and Green are standard backdrop colors used in the film and TV industry, in order to be replaced with scenery or effects in post-production. Premnath, who frequently uses these colors, sees them as “zero colors” that exist in order to be replaced, while still allowing an infinite gradient of possibility in between. The body that measures the world and is its concrete site of knowledge is also the body that disappears.
A heavy concrete slab leaning against a wall, with a hemispherical iron baanali embedded near its top is also titled Gradient. The baanali, a vessel used by construction workers to mix and carry cement is ubiquitous in a city with rampant property development. Using this implement, the real physical labor of the construction worker transforms a plot into property.
The series of black and white video loops entitled Sleeping Dogs are exactly what their title describes. Familiar inhabitants of Bangalore’s streets, these beings occupy a state of perpetual unhomeliness and are vulnerable to the whims of passersby. They claim provisional spaces in the city and create a fragile and contingent architecture out of their bodies. Their peaceful and temporary “occupation” is filled with the potential of split-second violence that could erupt if disturbed, calling to mind the old idiom, “let sleeping dogs lie."
In Plot, Premnath is concerned with a paradox that lies between the direct occupation of land with one’s body (squatting)—a primordial form of land ownership—and the abstract accumulation of property evidenced by the booming real estate market.
Sreshta Rit Premnath (1979, Bangalore) is an interdisciplinary artist and educator based in New York City.
He completed his MFA at Bard College (2006), and attended the Whitney Independent Study Program (2008). In 2009 he attended Skowhegan; in 2011 he received the Art Matters Foundation Grant and the Civetella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship; in 2012 he was awarded the Arthur Levitt Fellowship from Williams College; and was awarded a Smack Mellon Residency this year.
Premnath’s work has been presented in solo exhibitions including Folding Rulers, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, 2013; The Last Image, Tony Wight Gallery, Chicago, 2012; Storeys End, Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin, 2011; Rhizome, Wave Hill, New York, 2011; Leo (procedures in search of an original index), GALLERYSKE, Bangalore, 2010; as well as numerous group exhibitions, including Imaginary Friends, Interstate Projects, New York; Its Endless Undoing, Thierry Goldberg Gallery, New York; The Hollow Center, Smack Mellon, New York; The Matter Within: New Contemporary Art of India, YBCA, San Francisco; Before and After, Galerie Balice Hertling, Paris; Spectral Evidence, 1A Space, Hong Kong; Other than Beauty, Friedman Benda Gallery, New York.
He is the founder and co-editor of the topical publication Shifter; has curated On Certainty at Bose Pacia, New York; and co-founded the ongoing Project for an Archive of the Future Anterior.
Premnath has taught at The Cooper Union, Williams College, The New School and the Vermont College of Fine Art. He is currently Assistant Professor at Moore College.