Candle burns for nostalgia

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  • Published 29.05.11

It was an experiment, an attempt to challenge traditional forms of exhibiting art. At the eight-day cross media workshop at Studio 21, the art forms displayed were on video, the artist’s own body and even in space outside the gallery.

Eleven artists participated in the workshop, organised by Shunyosthan Artists’ Collective. On May 25, the participants spoke about their work and experience at a post-event presentation held at CIMA Art Gallery.

Madhuja Mukherjee’s work had clips from the 1949 Raj Kapoor film Barsaat, lobby cards, song books of yesteryear actress Suraiya and Meena Kumari’s forgotten poems woven together to create a beautiful piece. The artist chose high-contrast black-and-white images to stress the element of nostalgia.

Barsaat is a story of separation and Meena Kumari’s verses, running alongside the clips, emphasise that,” said Mukherjee. “The dark images in my eight-minute video help recreate a forgotten era. I wanted viewers to relive some old memories related to this film or the experience of watching a movie in a theatre.

“Art can be displayed anywhere. We had an interesting mix of artists among us. One of them used his body as an expression of art while another created art outside the gallery space. But it was nostalgia that bound most of our works together,” explained Mukherjee.

The other artists in the workshop were Dhrupadi Ghosh, Sumona Chakravarty, Budhaditya Chattopadhyay, Syed Taufik Riaz, Amitava Adhikary, Tapati Chaudhury, Anirban Dutta, Jayraj Bhattacharya, Rudra Kishor Mandal and Sujay Mukherjee.

All the artists came up with diverse and distinct creations, some of which were collaborative and spontaneous.

One such collaboration saw Riaz, in an interpretation of Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Nostalghia, make an entire candle burn, while behind him film-maker Anirban Dutta played images of another Tarkovsky film, Sacrifice, on a projector. Riaz, who used his body as an art form, staged a series of short performances called 53 Saturdays, stretching across the span of the workshop.

Another interesting work was Budhaditya Chattopadhay’s This Location. He mixed sounds of four different cities to create a separate identity. “I tried to redesign space and create a distinct urban memory through field recording and sound design,” he said.

Chakravarty’s work tried to revive the old para culture of Dover Terrace, where Studio 21 stands. In her work Everyone’s Garden, she and local boys tried to re-create a garden by clearing the soil outside the studio, planting shrubs, cementing a wall and finally painting it.

Another of her works, The Garage Library, saw her recreate a community library that stood in the locality 70 years ago. Chakravarty collected old books from local residents and asked them to scribble notes inside the pages. With active participation from local residents, Chakravarty managed to create a lost world through her art.