Theatres of self-definition, mythologies of identity

By Radhika Desai | Domus

Everyone Agrees: It's About to Explode is poet-curator Ranjit Hoskote's title for the Indian pavilion located within the Arsenale, appearing as it does, for the first time as a curated, nationally-sponsored pavilion. Using the "deep spatial" subcontinental archetypes of the Hindu-Buddhist mandala and Islamic chahar-bagh as an architectural cosmogram for arranging his exposition, Hoskote proves that the "release of various temporalities" is the linking thread in the complex religious, artistic, and political histories and realities of the subcontinent.

An imaginary diagonal connects the video-works of artist-duo Desire Machine Collective (DMC) based in Guwahati in the northeast, to a quadrant where we see the work of New Delhi-based Gigi Scaria, originally from the southwestern coast. Scaria's Elevator from the Subcontinent addresses the negotiation of caste and class in the metropolitan mainstream, while DMC's subtle approach to dealing with conscription to a national cultural fringe by an accident of geography, is seen in their 35mm film, Residue, set in an abandoned thermal plant.

21 July 2011