Talwar Gallery is pleased to present a new multi channel video installation by Navjot Altaf. The exhibition will be on view from March 30 through May 29, 2010.
The new film Touch IV (2010), a 22 channel video installation evolved from the artist’s previous concerns with the nuances of touch – be it desire, interfacing with and through the body, intimacy, sensation, feeling and sexuality. Touch IV reflects upon a multi layer discourse narrating visually the artist’s interaction with sex workers involved with Sangram center and the Vamp organization in Sangli, Maharashtra. Navjot's first interaction with these workers who continue their profession of their own choice was at Prithivi Theater in Mumbai where they were enacting tales of their own lives. In this collaboration with them, the artist explores the equilibrium between the body and touch, mapping elements of undesired (desired) touch, sexual violence, justice, the right to one’s body, access to human rights, and how through these sex workers have emerged an image of themselves as a social construct and empowerment, evolving a heightened awareness of the self through critical action.
The multiple points of engagement between the artist and the sex workers are drawn from their experiences, referential signs, repetitive forms and images, movements, and spoken words of the protagonists. These signs draw attention to the relationship between desired and undesired touch, touch as a mode of self knowledge that emphasizes the temporal experience unfolding narratives of sexual identities. Navjot layers the various perspectives, with imagery of nature, everyday life, machinery, kinetic objects, fire emitting from welding, the incandescent street lights from the narrow by lanes in Sangli and the clicking of a typewriter. These images are liberated from their defined materiality and are continuously transposed into ever-changing metaphors that reveal multiple stories, which in turn reads their world in a stratified, more complex and as an open work that Altaf makes up as she weaves her way through their territory. What is unique and continuously new about the work is how each installation is a step towards breaking down the boundaries of identity/touch/ narrative and form towards a sub-verbal experience, the existence of which we can only sense.
Navjot Altaf was born in 1949 in Meerut, India. She has been included in several important exhibitions including Lacuna in Testimony at Frost Art Museum, Florida, US (2009-10), Public Places, Private Spaces, The Newark Museum, New Jersey, US (2007-8) and The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota, US (2008-9), Tiger by the Tail! At The Rose Art Museum, Waltham, Massachusetts, US (2007); Zones of Contact, XV Sydney Biennale, Sydney, Australia (2006), VIII Havana Biennial, Havana, Cuba (2003) Century City at Tate Modern, London, UK (2001) and the first Fukuoka Asian Art Triennial, Japan (1999). She has also been in several interactive, cooperative, and collaborative projects including Groundworks at Carnegie Mellon Galleries, Pittsburgh, PA (2005) Three Halves at Bolton Museum, Lancashire, UK (2001-3). Navjot was educated in Fine and Applied Arts from J.J. School of Arts, Mumbai, India (1967-72).
Navjot Altaf currently lives and works in Bastar (Central India) and Mumbai, India.