Recycle the art, reclaim the ways

DIFFERENT Works at the gallery.

DIFFERENT Works at the gallery.  


Installations are a big thing now. The ongoing exhibition Re-claim, Re-cite and Re-cycle proves as much.

And we thought recycling was only about paper. This April, more than 30 varying media like videos, digital prints, watercolours, drawings, photographs and paintings, mounted at the huge Travancore Art Gallery in New Delhi have blurred that belief. Curated by Bhavana Kakkar, the show titled ‘Re-claim, Re-cite and Recycle’ “propagates not only the recycling of material things but also the recycling of cultural and spiritual values, human memories, emotions, existence and even sexuality,” as Bhavna sums it up.

Interestingly, there are hardly any artists in the exhibition that rock today’s art scenes, but these artists are immensely talented and strikingly different.

Fascinating work

For instance, a fascinating installation by young Prajjwal Choudhury from Kolkata shows a small furnace on which a mammoth black wok is kept. It contains thousands of matchboxes carrying pictures of famous art works with captions at the back. And these are ‘cooked’ like popcorn. The captions read, “Whatever you are, will burn after the last stick” and “I am here, who will be the next?” It continues with a huge recycle plant as used at a construction site. In the ‘mixer’ from the plant the art matchboxes are undergoing a recycling process. Prajjwal has used the matchbox as the metaphor for the ever changing art scene, i.e. art lives like a language though artists get recycled. “I collected 60,000 matchboxes and got art works imprinted on them. The collection in itself is archival material now,” says Prajjwal.

Scar on the psyche

Mumbai’s Justin Ponmany’s layered work comprises subtle swastika motifs recycled in video, mosaic and fibre sculpture. If the mosaic with a grill motif represents middle class sensibilities of the 1970s and ’80s, a view of the structure from different sides exposes the swastika motif that Justin is “trying to evade”.

He cites the reason: “I have been seeing the swastika sign with reverence since my childhood days. But soon after the Babri demolition and Gujarat violence, the sign suddenly acquired a different meaning for me. Many of my artist friends dreaded this sign which suddenly created a wall between them, me and this sign. So my structure attempts to ‘expose’ the pseudo-intellectuals’ reactions to such happenings and works like mine,” shares young Justin.

Kolkata’s Chittrovanu Mazumdar’s sound installation titled “Ice Cream Factory Chill Tubes And A Love Song” provokes laughter and thought.

He recycled chill tubes available in ice cream factories to music columns, on which many ‘bigul’ like structures are welded.

As he switches it on, the song “Le gayi dil, gudiya Japan ki” from “Love in Tokyo” blares with fast beats and honking that disturbs the otherwise foot-tapping old number from the 1960s film.

“I recorded this song as it is ‘recreated’ by a local band in Kolkata. The disturbances denote the dissonance and discord once you recycle a classic song in your own way. Yet, youngsters lap it up because of its fast beat. It becomes a strong symbol of transformation,” explains this reclusive artist.

Apart from Rajesh’s heart installation made with matchsticks titled “Beedi Jalalile Jigar Se’ (song from “Omkara”), Shalini Samanta’s sari installation created by the crowns of diet coke bottles denoting the effects of globalisation on the cultural economy of India, is also attracting attention.


Among photographs Vivek Vilasini’s “Just what is it…after Richard Hamilton” and “Paneer Pizaa” by Manjunath Kamath are interesting. Tushar Joag’s digital print of Crawford Market of South Mumbai and Atul Bhalla’s shots of water woes in Delhi’s Dhaula Kuan slum are also worth taking a look at.

The exhibition also includes recycled objects made by Tihar Jail inmates. A part of the proceeds from the exhibition will go towards them.

The exhibition continues till April 30.

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