Art as an aesthetic experience is accepted but it also has a larger purpose: to convey new ideas and to rouse the people. Two exhibitions presented together by Dr. Bhau Daji Lad (BDL) Museum and Lakeeren Gallery — Anita Dube’s Labyrinth and Shaurya Kumar’s The Lost Museum — stand out for doing just that. Dube creates an array of fascinating works using her signature font of swirls made with velvet-encased wires that lead to sentences meshed with each other. She uses this as a kind of ‘writing on the wall’ to showcase mortality, brutality, pain, joy, from the writing of authors such as Kafka and Pasolini. The sentences created using twice-written words are abstract visualisations of subtexts found in these writings. For instance, Pasolini’s poetry laments the loss of importance of heritage and history in the current generation and highlights her work based on newspaper articles that portray the protests of ordinary Indians against administrative policies.

On the other hand is Shaurya Kumar’s painstakingly researched work. Kumar believes that loss of any art is a loss of history and of the spirit of the time. Often the most precious symbols of a country’s culture have fallen prey to the ravages of nature and man alike. While a great amount of good work was irretrievably lost due to lack of documentation, some of it could be archived with the introduction of photography and computers. The Council for Documentation of Lost Art and Cultural Heritage (CDLACH) converted many precious artworks into an electronic database. However, 25 years after the archive was created, much of the database was found inaccessible or damaged; thus causing yet another loss of an already lost treasure.

Shaurya Kumar showcases the remains of the artworks taken from the corrupted database; a visual testament to the final loss of history. Each piece represents a work of art that was destroyed from the Bamiyan Buddhas that fell to the Taliban to intricate tapestries that occupied a place of pride in the Twin Towers before 9/11 to priceless European art that was stored in tunnels and churches during the Nazi era.

Bottomline: Forceful comments on the realities and ravages of life

Labyrinth and The Lost Museum

Where: Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Byculla, Mumbai

When: Till February 15