Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Golden Feral Trail-Talk by Archana Hande

The Golden Feral Trail is my journey that records local oral histories to trace the relationship between South Asia and Western Australia. The story of trade and migration between the two regions from the early 1800s until the present can essentially be mapped from the Gold rush to Ghost towns of today. This trail has taken me to cemeteries, abandoned graves, deserted mining pits, ghost towns, institutional archives and personal photo albums.
South Asian cameleers and traders, referred to as ‘Afghans’ were brought into this region of Australia to help the British Empire explore and exploit its resources. There was no infrastructure of roads and railways yet so the British first brought in horses but they were of no use in a desert. Then they tried camels from Saudi Arabia, but they failed too as this was a salt desert. Finally the South Asian camels worked for them as they were from a similar climactic region. An unexpected bonus was the cameleers, Afghans. They belonged to nomadic sects and turned out to be very good explorers and invaluable to gold exploration missions into the outback. Renowned British explorers (many new towns came to be named after them) were in fact led by obscure Afghans and Wongathas who knew their land better.
The Wongathas respect the Earth, anything vertical on it is venerated – mountains, hills, rocks but the Englishman was interested in what was hidden underneath. Wongathas had only stories to share, and their land they were forced to share.
Coming back to the Afghans, I realized the nomenclature of ‘Afghan’ was used very loosely in the Australian immigration records. It referred to immigrants belonging to nomadic sects across Sindh, British India, Afghanistan or Baluchistan. They could be of many different religions - Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and speak diverse languages - Urdu, Hindi, Pashtun, Dari but for the British authorities in Australia they were all Afghans.
Today there is much that is feral in the Australian landscape. A lot of the seeds, animals, even the camel is feral now. Like a mine is abandoned when the land’s veins are sucked dry of the resource, like a town supporting a nearby mine becomes a ghost town when the miners move away to the next mine. This landscape is a spectator to the vestiges of the Empire even as it contributes to new global empires. Australian camel meat is exported to the land of the camels - the Arab countries now. Wongathas don’t eat camels. They forage for Emu eggs while the mining companies dig for gold alongside.
The Feral Trail, as I call it, as I see it, remains beneath the red earth. This Western Australian horizon tells a story of a nomadic establishment of economy but also of a loss, an erasure.
Everyday everything goes back to the earth.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

UP THE RED STAIRCASE Exhibition By Tapan Moharana

Tapan Moharana has been exploring materials and found objects to respond to his surroundings where he relates them to his own sensibilities and rearranges them as installations. He responded to several objects housed at 1Shanthiroad that have a distinctive history in South India.These objects range from antique fragmented icons made of stone to ritual bronze vessels to leftovers from previous art exhibitions to numerous discarded objects collected out of debris found throughout the city. Tapan has handpicked several objects that include grinding stones, potted plants, branches from a tree and discarded metal structures to form an architectural grid as an elaborate installation work.
Tapan has been responding to these objects that typically have a tradition and context of material culture that has been erased over time. His works on paper symbolize this erasure through time and also represent memory.
Tapan Moharana holds a B.F.A and M.F.A in Sculpture from Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata and has exhibited in several group shows around the country. He is the recipient of the Inlaks Fine Art Award in 2017 and is currently funded through Inlaks Foundation to pursue a residency at 1Shanthiroad Studio/Gallery

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Bengaluru Illi-Alli Open studio by Birender Yadav

Birender Yadav has been exploring his identity first and foremost as a son of a coal miner from Dhanbad among other things. In this context, in one of his previous works, he used workers’ thumb prints as impressions of the uneducated - a process that socially engages people living hard earned lives. His work grapples with the self and his own predicament as an artist has been to explore conceptual ideas about identity, material and the politics & violence of prevalent in our society. His recent work during his residency at 1Shanthiroad looks at surveillance in Bangalore, the iconic evil eye demons that dot the city, and the popular political symbols that fire his imagination.​