Event Life & Style

Of barbed reality and an utopian vision

One of Sameer Tawde’s works from the series ‘Holy Boulverard’   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

A lot of things we use, if not recycled appropriately, can end up in the ocean. We wake up to information on a daily basis on plastic contamination in ocean beds and the filth that washes up on the beaches. Commenting on the culture of consumerism and lack of eco-consciousness, Mumbai-based artist-architect Sameer Tawde presents a series of works called ‘Holy boulevard’.

Sameer Tawde

Sameer Tawde   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

He used polystyrene packaging material gathered from large scale trash centres in Dharavi, Mumbai, constructed imaginary ‘buildings’ and ‘monuments’. Huts, a structure reminiscent of the Roman Colosseum, pyramids, and structures resembling contemporary urban buildings are all made of packaging material and float on water surface. These pristine-looking white structures framed against the blue waters and skies, says Sameer, “have nothing holy about them though white is a colour we associate with purity.” The project took a few months to execute. Sameer first built these structures and then photographed them, choosing a zone that didn’t have much watercurrent. Wind current, though, proved to be tricky and the stability of these structures and the subsequent photography also depended on low and high tide conditions. ‘Holy Boulevard’ is a part of his ‘Marvels of Humans’ exhibition now on view at Goethe Zentrum, Hyderabad, in association with Krishnakriti Foundation and UP Gallery, Hsinchu city, Taiwan.

Sameer studied architecture before he decided to explore design through visual arts. He remembers an inter-college contest in the fourth year of architecture when he was exposed to the visual arts — paintings, drawings, sculptures, and the works. Eventually, he took up a course in communication and design from National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad. “I discovered my passion for photography at NID,” he reminisces.

His approach to photography is different from documenting what’s unfolding around us. He likes to introduce fiction and drama to build narratives that comment on issues. ‘Marvels of Humans’, might look like a collection of his photographs, but step closer to observe the artistic pursuit.

One of Sameer Tawde’s works from ‘Dialogues of an Introvert’

One of Sameer Tawde’s works from ‘Dialogues of an Introvert’   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

The photographs are ‘staged’ to initiate a dialogue with the viewers. In the section ‘Dialogues of an Introvert’, he uses barbed wires as a metaphor to show how social and political barriers can limit our visions and change our perspectives.

Barbed wires are present in spectacles, and on a wall punctured with a small doorway that presents a limited world view. “My comment is not limited to India; it’s in a global context,” he says.

Sameer takes our attention to propaganda that happens around us, using a series of mics mounted on blocks of stone that normally act as bases for statues. “We first need to accept the presence of propaganda to be able to react and maybe revolt,” he says, pointing to an image where flocks of birds rise away from the vicinity of the mic. The series then moves into an imaginary, utopian world the artist dreams for himself.

In this dreamy world, Sameer gives wings to his imagination, framing a white fish against the calm skies, positioned high above the water. Viewing most of Sameer’s photographs, one can engage in conversations of how he made it happen. And he’s game to explain. Nothing is photoshopped. His design background comes in handy to create props, miniatures and other structures that go into narrating a story. “I always wanted to give importance to fiction photography than documentary, to my imagination than merely capture what I see around me,” Sameer asserts.

He remembers that while growing up, he didn’t have an affinity towards his hometown, Mumbai. But taking a new look at his neighbourhood and his city as a photographer opened his vistas. Sameer has exhibited his work in Japan, Paris, Taiwan and is eager to showcase in different Indian cities.

‘Marvels of Humans’ by Sameer Tawde is on view at Goethe Zentrum, Hyderabad, as part of Krishnakriti Festival of Arts and Culture, till January 16.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 6:25:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/krishnakriti-2019-architect-artist-sameer-tawde-uses-design-and-fictional-photography-to-comment-on-socio-political-scenarios/article25931118.ece

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