The lights at the Kiran Nadar Musuem of Art (KNMA) in Noida are turned off. Muffled sounds of birds’ chirping, running water and subdued voices of people greet you as you enter the gallery with a torch in hand. The video art exhibition titled Enactments and Each Passing Day is now on at the gallery, a spectacle of various interesting videos, video sculptures and large video installations.

Started by artists like Andy Warhol, Nam June Paik and Wolf Vostell, video art sprang to life during the late 1960s to early ’70s. Unlike theatrical cinema, video art doesn’t necessarily need actors or dialogue. This form often completely shuns the use of any kind of narrative. It primarily focuses on exploring the medium itself and takes the viewers to explore the notions of space, time and form.

The ongoing exhibition at the KNMA showcases many important works from the museum’s overall collection, including Ranbir Kaleka’s Man Threading a Needle (1998-99); Bani Abidi’s trilogy of videos Mangoes, Anthem and New, which was made between 1999 and 2001; Vivan Sundaram’s Black Gold (2014); Shakuntala Kulkarni’s Julus (2015); and Sonia Khurana’s Head Hand and the Surreal Pond.

Girl on a Swing, 2 min, single channel, 2012, by Vishal K. Dar.

Talking about the importance of the show, Kiran Nadar, founder, KNMA, says, “As a collector and institution-builder, I’ve been following the forays of contemporary artists into a variety of mediums including video and digital arts. The KNMA collection has a substantial representation of cutting-edge artists and video artworks that are historically important and mark the trajectory. This exhibition is our effort to bring attention and popularity to this medium of video art in the larger public domain.”

Shivering Sands, a 21-minute video artwork displayed on a huge LCD screen by Rohini Devasher, transports viewers to abandoned army posts in southern England near the Thames estuary. Through this meditative and visually-engaging work, Devasher seeks answers to questions like: What are these strange dystopic tripod- like structures? What were they meant to be? What could we imagine them to be? Is this the past? Or the uncertain future of a tenuous present? The video shows the posts from a distance and then it takes the viewer close to the posts while the rhythmic sound of water fills the airwaves. The viewer, seeing the video, feels as if one is bodily present at the very site.

Shivering Sands, a 21-minute video artwork displayed on a huge LCD screen by Rohini Devasher, transports viewers to abandoned army posts in southern England near the Thames estuary. 

Devasher says: “I was amazed by how futuristic and dystopic these posts were. I travelled for four hours to and back from the post to shoot this video. I am completely in awe of them and I imagined them as nomadic among various other things. A few years back, I was also connected with amateur astronomers in Delhi and that association also somewhere led my interest towards Shivering Sands as I learnt the art of expedition from them. The work was completed in 2016.”

The text embedded in the aforementioned video by Laura Raicovich, president and executive director, Queens Musuem, New York, is a sort of poetry pertaining to life. Raicovich has directly connected the feelings of an average person with science and mathematics. She has further linked it to the geography of the site.

Delhi-based artist Vishal Dar has, at this show, presented his 2012 artwork titled, Girl On A Swing from his series BROWNation. The video uses the concept of parallax where a girl is shown on a swing suspended from India Gate as a crowd mills around, oblivious to her. About the artwork, Dar says, “I wanted to see how I can create a certain idea of parallax within an image. It talks on a level of iconography; how does image making with iconic work. To this artwork I hope every person brings their own narrative.”

Black Gold, 10 min, three channel, 2012, by Vivan Sundaram.

The video Black Gold is based on Vivan Sundaram’s large installation (done in 2012-13 Biennale) comprising thousands of “discarded” local potsherds from the Pattanam archaeological site in forms an imaginary (two thousand year-old) port city – Muziris. Fragrant black beads are nestled among these simulated architectural ruins – i.e. pepper, the “black gold” of the title. About his video installation Sundaram says, “The lay-out of the installation suggests an archipelago; circumambulating it in person, you experience its clustered miniaturization. The geographical allusion turns into a metaphor; the archipelago folds into a playground of infancy. When the camera traverses the site, the dense formation takes on yet another visage: ‘dead’ matter unravels fresh terrain that is in its very fragility combustive.”

The exhibition allows the viewer to really feel the full weight of the scenes depicted, which are both real and imaginary, the kind of vista which otherwise could be missed by the naked eye.  

Enactments and Each Passing Day will continue at KNMA, Noida till 8 December


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