Since the words ‘Let there be art' were uttered at the beginning of last week, the city's residents have shared their public spaces with the works of celebrated artists – in malls, in stations and in the beloved Marina Beach. Yet, has anyone paused to find out how much of this art is created within the city's boundaries?

Meet Parvathi Nayar and Benitha Perciyal, two Chennai-based artists whose work forms part of one of Art Chennai's highlights -- ‘To Let the World In: Narrative and Beyond in Contemporary Indian Art' curated by Chaitanya Sambrani at the Lalit Kala Akademi. While some may be familiar with Ms.Perciyal's work with organic material that opened the Art Chennai festivities a week ago, Ms. Nayar's work is what one would call a microcosm of the kinds of people that inhabit Chennai. Her piece, inspired by the Latin poem ‘De Rerum Natura (The Nature of Things)' by philosopher Lucretius, explores the idea of collisions and transmissions of knowledge.

“The poet looks at dancing motes of dust in a beam of sunlight and surmises that this arises because something smaller than the dust is moving them,” she says. “Effectively, more than 2000 years ago, he was deducing the presence of atoms!” she adds about the poem that is the literary description of her three-panelled drawings called ‘The Seeds of Things'.

Interestingly, her drawings are accompanied by a video art film that brings together various people from the fields of theatre, academia, fashion and photography.

For theatre personality Hans Kaushik, who plays a double persona in the film, one who recites the poem in Sanskrit and another who keenly listens in, only to recite it in Latin, this kind of project is a first for him. But if it wasn't for the help of Sanskrit expert Rama Rajagopalan and Latin specialist Sara Privat, he may have struggled with the enunciations. “In the beginning, I wondered what the connection to Sanskrit was,” says Ms. Rama. “But I was curious to know how the poem is going to be interpreted,” says Ms. Rama.

“The most challenging part was to film the dust in the sunbeams,” says Ms. Nayar, standing in front of a monitor displaying some lovely montages of sunbeams and dust.

The show is open till April 10.

Keywords: Art Chennai

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