Having grown up in a megalopolis, I move about with the constant awareness that things around me could explode any moment. The quivering metal frame of a BEST bus, like the mental frames of its passengers, is always at its breaking point. The plastic-chocked belly of the bored cow feeding from the garbage bin is about to erupt and the local train coming to a halt is going to disgorge a sea of humanity that it had for so long barely managed to contain within itself. Everything always appears to be bursting at its seams.
Unlike my parents – who grew up in villages with families of adopted stray dogs and who kept track of time with the help of the trains they could hear but not see – my generation and I are habituated to these continuous blowups and breakdowns. These explosions, however, are rarely spectacular. Mostly like blisters that pop one by one, they are simply symptoms of degeneration.
The works in this exhibition look at these symptoms sardonically. Giant cows invade Gurgaon (Jagannath Panda) and Yudhisthira’s clothes bleed synthetic color (Atul Bhalla). The past and the present swirl together to remind us how we have always readily inflicted violence on ourselves and our rivers, forests and wildlife. It is only in Ashim Purkayastha’s large work titled ‘Protest’ that we see anger towards this situation. But mostly we find humour, beauty and even peace in our daily explosions and at the thought of our eventual degradation.