“Dare to Dream,” a show of moving images in new media at Rain Tree, opens up new avenues of art and interpretation

A video of Bangladeshi artist Tayera Begum Lipi clad in white shows her cutting newspapers into long strips. Soon, she disappears behind a mountain of black and white, yet she continues to pile on the strips. This could perhaps denote a woman’s engagement with anything, until it completely consumes her.

Surekha’s ‘Line of Control’ kindles an interesting thought of being boxed in. You could attach moral and ethical significance to it and conjure up different events you could relate to, but the essence of it, and sometimes of our lives, is like the ant trying to get out of a jagged blue line (or thread, one isn’t sure) around it. The trunk in which the video runs is an ethnic addition to the art and has its own narrative.

The lovers in Surekha’s ‘F-lovers’ are rather shy and happy at the same time. In this video, encased in a fluffy red heart, the flowers are perhaps a metaphor for their relationship. At first, they’re happy, presenting each other with flowers. But soon, things go in reverse order and you see them giving back whatever they had received. Is this to say a relationship is a cycle? Or perhaps one of give and take? ‘Surveillance,’ also by Surekha, offers another interesting thought. Encased in a pot are two brown eyes that keep searching, sometimes wary and at other times out of sheer habit. This probably shows how women perceive themselves and their need to be constantly vigilant.

Perhaps the most appealing yet disturbing of the works are the two based on memory. One, a new media installation by Surekha, shows the video of a woman immersed in a tub of water and roses. ‘Bhagirathi Brings Water’ is about the superstitions that plague India and its women, and narrates the story of a pregnant girl who was sacrificed. As the woman goes under the water, the tub overflows. As the victim drowns, another frame shows the heavens opening up and there is rain, putting an end to the drought in the village.

Another work based on memory is of the Pundit’s house in Kashmir by Veer Munshi. The video has two frames, one of a house burning and another of a pair of legs walking endlessly. Even as the legs walk through spring, autumn and heavy snow in winter, the house continues to burn, perhaps signifying a departure from a vivid memory until finally, the legs disappear into the horizon.

In contrast, ‘Just Stupid’ by B.M. Kamath is a random sequence of events that seem to draw our attention to the lopsided society we live in. A five-minute video art, it looks at consumerism, of people being led in circles and so on. It’s about how we blindly follow a trend — a man wrings your ear and slaps your face and you do it in turn to someone else thoughtlessly.

‘Train Journey’ by Werner Dornik is abundantly nostalgic. You hear the loud siren of a train about to leave, the monotonous drone of the automated voice service and a train coming to a screeching halt. Yet, the moving images that catch your eye are not of the train itself, but the people you glimpse in every passing coupe. A child with its face pressed against the window grille, a woman holding her son and looking out, a man waving at someone or even the colourful trunk that is oddly familiar.

Gigi Scaria is a man who believes in balance. Like a Tetris table with falling blocks, houses and buildings fall on a dormant cannon. The world behind it seems rusty and sullen. Suddenly, as the houses pile up and there is no more space, the cannon, which, until now, only had a swirl of smoke coming out of it, bursts into life. Gigi’s subtle dig at our indifference to Nature and his suggestion that there will be a tipping point, brings one back to reality. You are left wondering how much longer you have until the cannon begins firing.