Krittika Sharma & Ipshita Sen in collaboration with Saira Ansari
6-10 Nov 2018
indigo+madder is pleased to present within | without, a group exhibition that brings together the work of fifteen interdisciplinary artists from India and Pakistan to explore themes of space and place.
The diverse works in the exhibition observe notions of space and its manifestation into a place: tangible and incorporeal, real and imagined, public and private. They give shape to ideas of sites of familiarity and belonging – or conversely unbelonging – and to space and place as containers of social life, culture and history (personal and collective). As possible extensions, these often translate into entities whose political and social environments contribute to a sense of being without place. The works investigate and challenge the various social dynamics that exist within such spaces and places, and how they lend themselves to the circumscribed physicality of land, home, body and mind.
Any exploration, deconstruction or re-imagination of space and place, highlights the actual impact and agency of its inhabitants. Fazal Rizvi takes the body as a starting point to explore how it inscribes upon space literally and figuratively. His works consider bodies inscribed and defined through real and artificial boundaries, memories, and experiences of other places, fleeting through space and time. In a similar vein, Jovita Alvares’ works are composed of multiple deconstructed and fragmented images, which altogether document her experiences and memories of familiar spaces. In Chandan Gomes’ This World of Dew, real and imaginary spaces become conflated as he seeks to make ‘real,’ the fantastical landscape drawings by a young child called Aini Haseena Bano. Iqra Tanveer’s intervention carried out at a site in Dhaka during various times of the day, plays with the three-dimensionality of the space, collapsing sky and water through the reflections created in the mirror in such a way that they seem to become one. The mirror acts as both an obstruction as well as a tool of unification in the landscape.
Some artists such as Natasha Malik and Nashmia Haroon explore and capture the transformation of places that they connect to personally or have inhabited. Natasha uses material from personal archives to examine and (re)create scenes that appear utopian via memory and nostalgia, whereas Nashmia questions spaces that were/are giving rise to a kind of dystopia through urban planning and development. An interest in built environments and their impact is also evident in Tanya Goel’s works. She is specifically interested in archiving built environments from the modernist architectural period in Delhi. For her paintings and frescoes, Goel uses actual materials recovered from demolished modernist structures to make pigments, creating complex abstract surfaces organised by mathematical formulas. Sahil Naik’s works on the other hand, reproduce architectural elements from modernist structures through hand-cut graphite drawings, commenting more broadly on their idealised purpose of inception and subsequent use in South Asia.
There is a multilayered investigation in several works, which question the often-conflicting qualities possessed by their imagined or physically occupied spaces. For instance Tenzing Dakpa’s series The Hotel, explores the idea of home as a place that evokes both belonging and disjuncture, while also examining, collecting and coalescing his family’s experiences as inhabitants of this ‘place.’ Or, in the case of Pranay Dutta, works that depict imagined spaces whose existence is only realised at the point of their erasure, whether in a physical or psychological sense. By collapsing time and space, he creates a future-oriented dystopian vision whose foundations have been set through present-day human occupation and destruction. Similarly, various techniques of layering, erasing and concealing information are fundamental to Imran Channa’s installation. His work includes phials of dust gathered through his travels in the U.K., and a partially self-erased large-scale drawing of the Crystal Palace, a structure constructed for London’s Great Exhibition of 1851. All of these elements seem to come together as a synthesis of transient personal memories, collective experiences and, more broadly, global history.
Questions of negotiating social spaces are also raised in Rajyashri Goody’s work. In her recipe books, Goody collects various references to food from Dalit literature to compose ‘recipes’ that not only highlight Dalit food practices but also issues of access to social spaces, desire, and food availability (or lack thereof). Her works attempt to make visible instances of everyday power and resistance within Dalit communities in India. In some works, a place is also understood as a geopolitical entity. The Exhausted Geographies (Vol. I & II) publications capture how the inhabitants of a place complicate its reality, making it more than just a position on a map. The relationship between spatial measurements and map-making, often used to exercise strategic control, is subverted by mapping experiential data from places, so that they may be employed as tools of critique and personal freedom instead. The works in the exhibition interact with each other to present a collection of the artists’ own experiences of places and how they relate to these, in a highly unique way.
There is great interest in the ideas of space and place in the field of philosophy. Often, studies focus on these concepts as a series of social relations. A place is considered a moment or site where several social phenomena/dynamics that are in flux (and characterise a space), find manifestation . Our bodies inhabit places physically and psychologically and they experience them in various ways. A place has the capacity to inscribe upon its inhabitants much in the same way that bodies have the ability to inscribe upon a place. Spaces and places are conceptualised as socially active phenomena, constantly changing in response to their inhabitants. It is also theorised that we are always ‘in place’ and never outside it . Furthermore, the nature of the power dynamics that infuse social relations, unfolding within a space (as it becomes a place), inherently include agency and scope for change and resistance . These social relations themselves are never predetermined, always leaving space for opposition. When seen in the context of this exhibition, space and place are also imagined as open to investigation through the artists’ varied practices, which include mediations through different mediums and processes – whether it is mapmaking with experiential data, actual manipulation of material from built environments, modification of images of landscapes or recorded interventions carried out at various sites. Ultimately, the artists’ works seen more broadly, not only highlight the multiplicity of spaces and places but also underscore the agency with which spaces can, and are, created, challenged and/or navigated.
 See Lefevbre, Henri. The Production of Space. Trans. by Donald Nicholson-Smith (1991). Oxford UK: Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell, 1974.
 See Casey, E. S. Getting Back into Place: Toward a Renewed Understanding of the Place-World. Bloomington, IN, US: Indiana University Press, 1993.
 For Foucault’s analysis of space and power dynamics see: Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality Vol. 1. London: Penguin Books, 1990. & Foucault, Michel, and Jay Miskowiec. "Of Other Spaces." Diacritics 16, no. 1 (1986): 22-27. doi:10.2307/464648.