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The Year in Time
by Himali Singh Soin

Even as the clock is a constant, K, ticking away, Time itself varies with the meridians, the stars, the oceans and its tides. It is hardly ever measured with numbers or needles: it is the sweat on a wrist, that which will indicate the state of the person rather than the false clasp of a wristwatch.

Time is measured in personal histories, and written through the narrow lens of the history of the historian--that time when you were in love flew by, that time when you doubted yourself stretched elastically on.

Time is measured in old jeans, in toothpaste tubes, in dried up play-dough and faded post-its, in memories of a missing person who was always by your side, in pine-nuts staled or fresh carrots at half price, a movie about Facebook, simultaneous revolutions, a defiance of capitalism, an acceptance of capitalism, in the death of a singer and the hit charts of a song.

Time, finally, is measured in patience and attention, which for our grandparents is much longer than for us. For them, a day has hundreds of hours, for us, a single one. It's measured in our memory of the days when we could read a whole book without looking up or spend a day in the park without a phone or a care. But here Time chuckles. Enter: Aunt Nostalgia. A current state of longing for the past. It has a way of erasing the surface of trouble, lodging trauma within and placing our egos and our triumphs at the centre of our stories.

So the end of a year can only be marked in all the things that have preceded it, in image and in story. Some of these have lasted centuries, others mere elusive moments.

Raqs Media Collective, Escapement, 2009, 27 clocks, high glass aluminum with LED lights, four flat screen monitors, video and audio looped, dimensions variable; Courtesy of Raqs Media Collective.

A historic retrospective of Raja Deen Dayal's bromide silver photographs from the 19th century opened 2011 in art. The narrative and formalistic integrity of this extensive show led in a spectacular year of art books and photography. Some pivotal books released this year included Kajiri Jain's 'God's in the Bazaar,' a meditation on Shilpa Gupta's practice, Sunil Gupta's collection of photographs of the queer community in Delhi and a smaller, indie, self-publishing initiative, ‘Madness Mandali.’

Sunil Gupta's 'Queer' was in conjunction with the Nigah Queer Fest exhibition, marking a year since the repeal of Section 377 by the Delhi court. The show included photographs and performances parodying Indian culture's relationship to homosexuality. Meanwhile, in Mumbai, Pablo Bartholomew shows a Mumbai of the 70's at Sakshi whilst at the NGMA in Bangalore, Martin Barnes curates a show of twenty-three photographs titled 'Something that I'll never see- Contemporary photography from the V & A.'  By July, Hussain dies and the country reels in remorse. The year's interest with photography brushes back to the canvas, with Priti Vadakaths photo-realist watercolors 'Reliving the past with all my might' at Kashi Art Gallery in Kochi, Kalighat's paintings in Calcutta and Waswo X Waswo's miniature confessions in Delhi.

For me personally, Time was marked by my first curatorial project on Time and displacement at The Loft in Lower Parel in Mumbai and my second on the manifestation of the text object into an art object, telling stories through space and silence. 'Words: A User's Manual' came down today, to have lived in it for a month is attachment, at best, and to let go is to realize that it exists anyway. But equally, the year was counted in a month of poems, in a misadventurous affair with a boy who wore the same shoes as me, a sojourn through the grungiest neighborhoods of Amsterdam and Berlin, free pistachios in Paris, an exploration of the polka-dotted Yayoi Kusama with Georgia and Jim of ArtSlant, like a big pot of stew on a grey day, a dinner party with strangers, meeting at the same bar with the same friends every week, yesterday was spent planning today, and today, unlikely, was spent baking a wintery apple crumble for the family. What comes next? Sending this story in, then awaiting midnight, and finally, when the date changes, the clock pulls time onward, I resist, for it is this privilege to meditate on and mediate Time that stills it, a full stop in a bubble with no membrane.

-- Himali Singh Soin

Posted by Himali Singh Soin on 1/2/12

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