Not so strange in the Age of Climate Change
Mixed Media Puppets, Variable Dimensions, 2019
Although considered insentient by the human world- there is ample scientific proof that Plants have emotions and a very elaborate communication system. When one is open to percieving without judging, one can hear the stories that plants tell. Contemporary puppeteer Varun Narain, brings to life two floral queens: Theobroma Cacao - the plant that bears the cocoa bean from which ultimately cocoa is derived, and Zingiber Officinale aka Ginger. The artist, also trained as a botanist, bases his creations on the botanical structures of the actual plants, embellishing them then further with flair, sass, movement and speech. Both Cocoa and Ginger bring out their strong flavours and thus, dominant personalities. Not given the attention they deserve, they strut around with attitude arguing with each other. Their queer relationship/s have given rise to some transgenic offsprings, was it those meddling humans again?!
SONIA MEHRA CHAWLA
Universe in Details
In-lit Photographs, 2019
Part of Sonia Mehra Chawla's continued engagement with Mangrove ecologies, these photographs of microbial cultures provide an astute starting point to consider the necessary entwinement and entanglement of humans and our other-than-human kin. These otherwise invisible critters, which contribute to the bio-geochemical cycles in one of the most important ecosystems in the search for climatic resuscitation, have been prepared at the MSSRF laboratories and were documented by the artist in the laboratory's UV laminar flow cabinets to prevent contamination of experiment.
In this act of zooming up close, the artist also gives us a way to look far above, destabilising our own positions in the complex nexus of multi-species living. Interstellar and interstitial both, the images urge us to practice holding multiplicities.
SONIA MEHRA CHAWLA
The Salt Lab: (Under) Currents and Crosswinds
Photographs with Inscriptions, 2018-19
Climate change brings a new urgency to understanding salt tolerance and the impact of various abiotic stresses on food crops in India. Of all the monocots, rice is the most sensitive to salinity. Rice is the world’s most important staple food. Through its various ongoing phases of research and documentation, the body of work reflects on the urgency to develop salt-tolerant and drought-resistant food crops in India. The project explores both indigenous saline tolerant rice varieties in India, as well as recent developments in the field of biotechnology for transgenic rice (from mangrove species), technologies that may shape the future of food in India.
Polyester thread, cotton thread, and stainless steel, Variable Dimensions, 2019
Drawing from the changing culture of his Koli village, assimilated over time into the megacity of Mumbai, Parag Tandel creates intricate sculptures in seven hues. The armature, inspired by traditional non-representational mother goddess deities, is populated with references to the nimbu-mirchi (lemon-chilli) evil eye believed to be a ward against ill-will and misfortune in the Indian region. This hybrid iconography offers a multi-pronged approach to think about divisive ideologies, majoritarian cultural influences, and fading indigenous wisdoms. The artist also adds other symbologies such as the colours of prominent sacred pigments, and the soul-stone carrying boats, reclaiming contemporary artistic space for the assertion of marginalized knowledges.
HIMALI SINGH SOIN
we are opposites like that: South Asian Futurism
1/7 Channel Video, 08:38 min, 2019
Building up non-anthropocentric, post-human ways of storytelling, artist Himali Singh Soin forages for polar mythologies that compose her series 'we are opposites like that'. This new video from the series, shot during a research residency on Svalbard in the high Arctic circle, captures the attenuation of planetary temporalities, confined geographies and decolonial possibilities through the motions of an alien figure entangled in a shifting landscape of receding glaciers. we are opposite like that desires to rearrange the map, and while firmly located in the two polar circles, it proposes a kind of transnationalist world blanketed in lichen and in which north and south are collapsed. Since the poles are used as laboratories for outer space research and have been the site of high frequency UFO sightings, Soin uses sci-fi tropes to propose a south-asian futurism, in which rationalism and the occult claim a multiplicity of disparate narratives, unified only by strange teleconnections.
Credits: Ikroop Sandhu (Animation), Devra Freelander (Field support) Supported by: The Embassy of Switzerland in India and India Foundation for the Arts