The Future is not Fixed: D-53 Defence Colony, New Delhi

21 August - 19 September 2020

"This show is an attempt to illustrate these feelings as we live through this point in history. This is the reality of today and this is the truth. The future is not fixed. Not at all anymore."

- Arjun Sawhney

People have always looked ahead; it might be considered an ineluctable aspect of human nature. They strive to make the coming time better than what it is today.  They take action in the hope that a perfect or at least better tomorrow can exist. The reality though is that the coming time is more of a mystery than ever before. Very rarely, if ever, do things turn out the way we envisage them.

Does this mean that we do not dream better dreams? For without those dreams how do we hope to access ambition and achieve bigger things.  The concept of the future acts as a motivation to set goals; it is a catalyst for change and impulse to move forward. In this way, we prepare future perspectives in professional, personal and private aspects of our lives.


But while the future can be anything, it doesn`t exist until it becomes the present. As Einstein said: "The separation between past, present and future is a bare, yet stubborn illusion”, which means that time is both perceived and dependent on a continuously evolving human consciousness. Still these fault lines exist in our minds and we see them as distinct entities.


In our pursuit of that elusive future, we had lost sight of the present; where we exist, how we live. And now in the span of a few months the future has been transformed from an uncertain to an unknown. Fear stalks us as an infectious virus spreads rapidly across the globe, and the questions swirl. Will we be carefree again? Will we find the courage to emerge from our cages? Will it be this year, the next or ever? Will our species draw on its scientific abilities and invent a cure? Will we learn from this experience? Will we change our relentless consumption patterns that are depleting the earth? Will we finally cooperate across divides and work together? Will we use this threat to subjugate and control human thought? What will the future be ? And how will it look?

This period will go down in history. It will never be forgotten. It will be documented in umpteen ways and interpreted by visual artists in a million more.


This show is an attempt to illustrate these feelings as we live through this point in history. This is the reality of today and this is the truth. The future is not fixed. Not at all anymore.

- Arjun Sawhney


The future will always present itself; its arrival is as inevitable as its form uncertain. We can only try to shape it by exploiting the resources available in the present…but what when the present has been transformed into a prison? So suddenly, without either preface or warning, our scope of vision painfully restricted if not altogether severed, hearts and minds rendered into virtual graveyards of stunted dreams and incapacitated desires that issue a chilling fear of losing time.

The reality of the world around us is one that we are being told about - even bludgeoned by - through an artillery fire of data and corresponding analysis, leaving us little time to assimilate and process, to contemplate rather than react to stimuli. Alas, we had already bartered our innate abilities to see, think and feel for ourselves, in exchange for the immediate gratification of easy and continuous information; perhaps it is only now that we are finally paying the price.

But how susceptible are the artists? Are they not accustomed to cloistering themselves, silencing the popular vernacular in favor of an allegiance to their own, being able to see, interpret and thereby create a world beyond the sublunary, one that not only appeals to the imagination but also gives promise of mutating into the real…

Leonardo Da Vinci once wrote “painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen”… can the artists help us? Can they restore our sense of sight? Will they not only reflect but also show us the way out of this abyss, revitalize our faith in freedom and confer on us the courage to write new prescriptions for our lives, those that account for but are not demoralized by a crippled present?

A writer’s perspective by Diya Sethi