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February 12, 2015

A visual dialogue connecting S Asian art diaspora


February 12, 2015

Opening a unique visual dialogue connecting South Asian Art diaspora, Serena’s Satrang Art Gallery launches its new exhibition ‘Re-Constructing Home’ on Wednesday.
Fostering common creative influences and interaction between South Asian diaspora artists in a diverse blend of creativity, the exhibition features Gopa Trivedi from India, Pradeep Thallawatta from Sri Lanka, and Javaria Ahmad and Sundas Azfer from Pakistan.
The Ambassador of Sri Lanka, Air Chief Marshal (r) Jayalath Weerakkody inaugurated the exhibition.
This exhibition considers and explores the idea of belonging. Human beings, both individuals and groups, tend to claim exclusive control over physical space and home is an example of this territory. 'Re-Constructing Home' is about investigating such overlaps and taking these dialogues further.
At an interesting crossroad in the evolution of popular culture, we stand at moment of hyper-introduction and meeting. One point of this intersection is where experiences are thrown up against one other as cultures travel, integrate, blend, develop, and appropriate. Moving in and out of one another in a fluid state of constant creative innovation, visual artists are in many ways the richest beneficiaries of this globalization as they dissolve into a broader visual language.
With globalisation, migration and the web, we have moved from these bivalent categories into a multivalent world of perspectives. Time and place have collapsed onto one another, seen clearly in cultural expressions exploding all over the world and especially in visual culture. We all come from a place and time very specific and yet now, also from everywhere.
The new generation of global South Asian artists has captured their own political and personal journey in the context of our larger understanding, and acknowledges them as important voices in a new global culture. Going through the works, one comes up with the pertinent question that whether

artists transcend questions of place and identity -- and should they? This exhibition brings together artists of common origins to uncommon result, a testament to the ongoing evolution of global visual culture, and of art as an enduring and transcendent human enterprise.
Introducing the exhibition and the artists, Asma Rashid Khan, Director of Satrang said that the Gallery takes the lead in celebrating art in all its forms and bridging the art scene with Pakistan’s neighboring countries. ‘We strongly believe art and culture are the best way to connect people and nations’ Asma said.
Curated by Sundas Azfer, the works on display at the exhibition shows the artists are all working together on one idea of belonging and control over space and home, investigating such overlaps about the dichotomy of existence and taking this dialogue further.
As one reads deeply into Sri Lamkan artist Pardeep Thalawatta’s work, the act of marking a space simply captures the subtle intervention he is making in public areas of Lahore. As he says that ‘The reaction of the public to the actions being played out in the performance also became a huge and imperative part of the performance itself’. Pradeep Thalawatta derives his performance from the important usage of an everyday household item like the toilet paper rolls. It depicts dropping long strips of toilet paper rolls and wrapping them through people’s activities whilst they carry on with their daily routines in the market places or where ever they are out and about. It simply captures and sows the interconnection of the general public. It intertwines us all in shared moments as we together understand the functionality of the city and its realities. The reaction of the public to the actions being played out in the performance also became a huge and imperative part of the performance itself.
Gopa Trievedi from India likes to ‘read into spaces’ particularly, domestic spaces. For her the domesticity is about everyday, where all life occurs and happenings take place. As human we tend to mark spaces by repetition of acts or habits to develop a comfort zone for instance a song marks a space, the repetition of different sounds and gestures surrounds that space and creates a milieu. Almost every human experience and action effect the surrounding. Her series of work ‘Safe Haven’ is an example of such comfort zone. In her creative comment, Gopa Trivedi says, “I have mainly worked with paintings incorporating narrative structures; I have also been exploring video since past one year. My major source of inspiration is the seemingly insignificant “Everyday Spaces”. In my working process I try to incorporate the characteristics and implications specifically related to it”. Gopa’s work mostly deals with Space, degeneration, time, fragmentation, fragmented spaces and what constitutes them. These fragments evolve out of people, memories, stories and instances of daily life, which she observe and experience on a day to day basis. Her interest lies not mainly in critiquing or admiring a space, but in “Reading a Space”.
Sundas Azfer’s work examines the issues related to personal territoriality, offers insight to the act of negotiation in shared spaces, and explains behaviors stimulated by the permanent and temporary residents of these spaces. Sundas believes that creating a certain sound, wearing a particular smell, placing an object or showcasing possession through other ways or means are actions that we human beings consciously or sub-consciously assume to express ownership over personalized territories. If someone barges into these personal spaces unsolicited, it is taken as act of encroachment and aggravates owners to express disapproval implying invasion of privacy.
Through repetitive ceramic houses, Javaria explores the true meaning of home which is better understood when we have to live somewhere else. The new unknown place reminds us of our own town, where we were fond of everything. For her, the margin between a house and a home differentiates a cemented habitat with a residence, filled with memories and emotions. On a broader perspective home is not only a residence but it is considered as any such place that provides us the same comfort zone. In her creative statement, Javaria Ahmad says that her ceramic forms are mostly sculptural in appearance in terra cotta and stoneware. By and large, these forms are hand built employing geometric and lineal details. Repetition is a major element of my work, whether it’s a repetition of some form or that of an element. Her ceramic houses symbolize temporariness and home sickness, further formed into various experiences and expressions.
Recurrence of events, recollection of memories, reminiscences of times past, faces forgotten and remembered, provoke a feeling of déjà-vu which manifests itself in my work as a constant leitmotif.
The idea of home is changing with the shrink created by globalization and people are returning to their ethnos in order to find their distinctiveness. By reconstructing the ideas associated with a basic human need ‘home’ the artists from three different countries have investigated home as domestic space, as a shared accommodation, a comfort zone and city as home.

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