This Boat with a Broken Rim
14 January - 13 February 2021
Works by Hesselholdt & Mejlvang, Sudipta Das, Salik Ansari, Chinar Shah
Curated by Phalguni Guliani
Mumbai Art Room is pleased to present This Boat with a Broken Rim – the inaugural exhibition of our new nomadic avatar. Supported by the Inlaks India Foundation, Phalguni Guliani takes the helm of the space at Kamalnayan Bajaj Art Gallery to bring together four artists from across international geographies and diverse mediums, each of whom addresses the fragmented realities of border regimes and arbitrary assemblages as experienced by both body and object as they pass through time.
Borrowing its title from the lyrics of a Bengali folk song, the exhibition as described by the curator is an “offering for our times.” Times wherein much like Alamgir’s verse we find ourselves – as nations, as peoples, indeed as collective consciousnesses – as “bhashailli”: slightly adrift and at sea in the swivels of populist propoaganda and waves of geological change that surround.
Weaving together practices that have concerned themselves through varying lengths of time with the rise of multi-bodied nationalisms and the ultimate futility of the nation state in governing the many countries of the body, the exhibition features works by Chinar Shah, Hesselholdt & Mejlvang, Salik Ansari and Sudipta Das.
Positioned centrally in this display is Please Rest in Peace for We Shall Not Repeat the Error – a tapestry of white fabrics donated from across the world and stitched together by the Danish artist duo Hesselholdt & Mejlvang in an attempt to redress the historic wrongs carried out by humanity with an almost Sisyphean consistency. In a diagonal play with this is Chinar Shah’s A Memorial for the New Economy – digital prints of handkerchiefs on which the artist embroiders the names of those who lost their lives in wake of the Government of India’s Demonetisation Policy of 2016.
As the austere white of the former comes together with the colourful kitsch of the latter, a dialogue about the market place and the economies of desire operating within it, is activated in the space. Augmenting this dialogue, are Sudipta Das’s Soaring to Nowherewhere Hanji paper sculptures depicting refugees who risk their life at sea, hang from the ceiling – thereby suggesting a dual fragility in both materiality and their wave like placement. A second suite of Das’s works: His/her Belongings, and two untitled tondos, further bookend this display.
A conversation that is thus begun by Das, Shah, and Hesselholdt & Mejlvang reaches its crescendo when laid quite literally and physically between them is Salik Ansari’s video installation – No lines in the sea. Ansari’s piece displays a two-channel video that are placed on the ground and tethered to the other works in the show by deceptively serpentine seeming lines of PVC tape. As we see a hand on screen trying to draw lines in water until the liquid is rendered completely black in the colour of ink, we are confronted with the impossibility of creating borders in a system that is naturally and perennially in flux.
The exhibitionis then that self-same perennially in-flux system; a world trudging uneasily and yet somehow by. As viewers are invited to query their place and perhaps even their complicity in the ocean of turbulence in which This Boat with a Broken Rimrows, it is the show’s hope that not one but many such gyres will reveal their churnings to them.
In this spirit, we are pleased to launch on the occasion of this exhibition – a special newspaper catalogue: This Ground That We Stand Onfeaturing five artworks from Hesselholdt & Mejlvang’s Soft power – a silent battle for the heart and mind series, and a long form interview made between them and the curator Phalguni Guliani. We are grateful to the Danish Cultural Institute, New Delhi for generously supporting the publication, and allowing us to bring to our visitors the terra firma in which this exhibition roots itself.
Phalguni Guliani lives between Delhi, Bangalore, and more often than not her suitcase. She is interested in the inner lives of objects and the spaces that house them, and seeks to explore these through a practice that pirouettes between writing and the curatorial arts. She has been invited to develop interdisciplinary projects at Canserrat El Bruc (2018), Sangam House (2019), Space118 Studios (2020), and Vermont Studio Centre (2021).
Hesselholdt & Mejlvang
Hesselholdt & Mejlvang are a Danish artist duo who began working as a collective in 1999. Their practice is focused on site-specific, large-scale installations that investigate concepts of collective identity, and how these inform and are affected by socio-political structures. Rooted in extensive research as an integral modus operandi, their work often incorporates performance and active use of the public space.
They have exhibited at Uppsala Art Museum (Sweden), IZOLYATSIA (Ukraine), Manifesta 12 (Italy) EMMA Espoo Museum of Modern Art (Finland), the Geological Museum of Mexico City (Mexico), Copenhagen Contemporary and Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art (Denmark), among others.
Salik Ansari is a multi-disciplinary artist and designer based out of Mumbai. His practice revolves around the ideas of power, displacement across the land, water, and the internet.
Salik has exhibited projects in a solo and group exhibition in Italy, India, Switzerland, Belgium, and the UK. He has been a recipient of international art and design residencies at Delfina Foundation (London 2019), Fabrica Communication Research Center (Italy 2018-2019), G39 (Cardiff 2018), and Futur Foundation (Switzerland 2014). He has been nominated for the Hublot design award, Switzerland 2017. His artworks are in private collections in India, Brazil, and Switzerland.
He holds an MDes degree in Communication Design from IDC, IIT Bombay 2017, and a BFA degree in Fine art from Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai 2014. During his master’s program, Salik was a Tata Fellow for grassroots innovation and design at TCTD, MIT's sister lab at IIT Bombay (2015-2017).
Chinar Shah is a lens based artist, academic, and occasional curator. Her work deals with photography and its implications in moments of violence and conflict. She is the founder of Home Sweet Home, an exhibition series that uses domestic spaces to show works of art. She has taught at the Srishti Institute for Art, Design and Technology (Bangalore, India) and is the co-editor of Photography in India: From Archives to Contemporary Practice (Bloomsbury, UK, 2018).
Sudipta Das was born in Assam and now works out of Baroda. She completed her BFA and MFA in painting from Kala Bhavana, Visva- Bharati, Santiniketan in 2009 and 2011 respectively. Sudipta’s solo shows include, ‘The Exodus of Eternal Wanderers’, Gallery Latitude 28, New Delhi (2020); ‘Every Year the Flood Comes’, Gallery Latitude 28 in collaboration with Space Studio, Alembic City, Baroda (2019); ‘A Soaring to Nowhere’, Gachang Art Studio, Deagu , South Korea (2017); ‘The Surface of Memory’, Gallery Latitude 28, New Delhi (2016) and ‘Break II’, Gandhara Art Gallery, Kolkata (2013). Her installation, ‘Soaring to Nowhere’ was part of The Art Projects at India Art Fair 2018 and was supported by Gallery Latitude 28.
She has also been a part of numerous group shows throughout India and internationally, amongst them – ‘Hanji Translated’, INKO Center at Lalit Kala Akademi Regional Centre, Chennai (2019); ‘CIMA Award Show, CIMA Art Gallery, Kolkata (2015); ‘Her work is Never Done Part – II’, curated by Bose Krishnamachari, ‘Asian Young Artists Art Festival’, Gangnam-Gu, Seoul, Korea (2014).
Sudipta is currently a visiting artist at the Harvard South Asia Institute (2020), and has previously been a recipient of several prestigious fellowships such as the Alpine Fellowship, Sweden (2019) where she also won the Visual Arts Award; Greenshield Fellowship, Canada (2019) and Junior Research Fellowship, Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India (2013). She has also been an artist in residence at the Gachang Art Studio residency in South Korea (2017); Pair-2 Artist Residency in Taiwan (2015), Reliance (Harmony Art Foundation) (2015), Khoj Kolkata residency (2015), Kanoria Residency (2011), and the Saavad Residency, Santiniketan (2011), and Space Studio, Baroda (2012- 2015).