The Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum (once the Victoria and Albert Museum) has undergone major renovations, and is continuing its engagement with contemporary art through the organization of short-term exhibitions. After Nikhil Chopra’s show earlier this year, the museum presents sculptor Sudarshan Shetty’s solo “This Too Shall Pass.” In this show, Shetty’s sculptures operate as institutional critiques of the space they inhabit, drawing on buildings as ideological symbols that can be linked to specific histories of violence.
In one piece, a blood-red neon sign that reads “scar,” is set upon a carved wooden chair encased in a plastic cast. The discrepancy between the object and the text that describes it points to archiving as an act of violence and decontextualization. Other works incorporate pieces of furniture and objects found in Mumbai’s famous Chor Bazaar, which literally translates into “Thieves Market.” The idea of the museum, which is being developed as an answer to India’s growing archives, finds an alternative repository in such a market where antiques and heirlooms are sold beside foreign car parts.
Another work consists of an overturned tower that lies in a red plasticized substance. A monumental wooden gateway makes for a dangerous path, as a sword swings back and forth over the entrance. These images are timely, as India waits with bated breath to hear the supreme court verdict over the issue of the razed Babri Mosque in the town of Ayodhya.
Perhaps the most interesting piece on display was the LED lights (think Jenny Holzer), which were encased in museum casing and told little known stories missing from historical record. Sitting along side more canonical displays, this work connected to private stories and personal struggles.
-- Avni Doshi
(Image courtesy of the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum and the artist.)