New Delhi, Jan 23 : In a groundbreaking collaboration across the United Arab Emirates (UAE), two art galleries in Abu Dhabi and Dubai have mounted exhibitions by Amar Kanwar, one of Indias most critically-acclaimed and internationally-exhibited contemporary artists.
His solo shows explore the politics and intricacies of power, violence, and justice, through poetic films and comprehensive multimedia works.
While the Ishara Art Foundation is hosting 'Such a Morning' (2017) from till May 20, the NYUAD Art Gallery, the University's academic museum-gallery, shows 'The Sovereign Forest' till May 30.
'Such a Morning', a feature-length film installation premiered internationally at Documenta 14 in Athens, Greece, and Kassel, Germany. The fictional narrative follows two central characters who grapple with a hallucinatory world. It follows an aging mathematics professor who retreats from his career, seeking isolation in an abandoned train carriage. Creating a zone of darkness so as to acclimatize himself before total darkness descends, the professor begins to live in a realm bereft of light. The many iterations and sensory possibilities of darkness and visibility are explored as he gradually screens out all the light and enters a subjective world.
A parallel story about a woman emerges within the course of the film, providing a compelling, analogous narrative to the protagonist's. Meanwhile, the professor records his epiphanies and visions in an almanac of the dark, an examination of 49 types of darkness that emerge as a series of letters which are exhibited alongside the film.
Kanwar conceived a narrative that continues beyond the film - the professor continues to write his letters.
On the other hand, 'The Sovereign Forest' at The NYUAD Art Gallery is an ongoing multimedia installation that is a creative response to crime, politics, human rights, and ecological crisis. It evolved out of the political and environmental conflict in the resource-rich, and the largely tribal Indian state of Odisha. Kanwar has been observing and documenting the industrial interventions that have irrevocably altered Odisha's landscape for more than a decade.
Aman Kanwar told IANS: "I have often wondered why we continue to destroy our ecosystems and our fellow human beings, regularly, almost as if in a compulsive eternal cycle, perhaps even while being aware of the consequences. These two exhibitions attempt to comprehend this repetitive peculiar behaviour. Is there a way to understand? What is the conversation after all the arguments are over and done with? "It is the time for us to come together and work in collaboration and for Ishara and NYUAD to take this initiative together is exciting and inspiring."