The Botanical Imagination

It is a truth now universally acknowledged, not least in recent articles in The Guardian and the BBC that the extinction of plants spells “bad news for all species,” and is being rapidly exacerbated by human destruction of the natural world. According to Dr Rob Salguero-Gómez from the University of Oxford, plants provide us with “food, shade and construction materials,” as well as “‘ecosystem services’ such as carbon fixation, oxygen creation, and even improvement in human mental health through enjoying green spaces.”

With the irreplaceable role of plants in our lives and surroundings, it is no surprise that artists have continually depicted the botanical world for both aesthetic and documentation purposes. Poised between art and science, botanical art has both aesthetic and utilitarian value. In India, this genre is largely associated with the Kampani (Company) school of painting, a naturalistic Indo-European style that became prevalent in the late 18th century when the East India Company sought to document the flora of the country. But depictions of plants go back much further in Indian art history, and were seen “on temple walls, pottery designs, motifs on woven carpets and embroidered textiles, […] illustrated folios from medieval manuscripts of Hindu epics,” and detailed in highly stylised forms in miniature art.

It is not only plants that face extinction. In Marg magazine’s recent issue (December 2018 – March 2019) titled Ars Botanica: The Weight of a Petal, historian and curator Sita Reddy says, “Today, with botanical art disappearing by the archive, and trees, forests or entire ecosystems at the whim of a malicious executive order, it seems more urgent than ever to compile some of these dispersed art historical resources. To refigure the botanical archive.”

While Marg drew attention to the rich, vibrant and largely unacknowledged history of botanical art in India, this essay seeks to explore the work of three contemporary Indian women artists who use plants as a motif, medium and metaphor to comment on issues of both personal and global significance. Belonging to a generation that has been educated in various sciences, the “diversity of interest [of these artists] allows for an exploration of the transcultural through the lens of the sciences, which function in a “universalist” sense wherever science is practiced – even if context favors one direction over another.” Incorporating but looking beyond aspects such as documentation and revival, the artists explore the botanical as an inquiry and a recreation of memories, reminding us of the value of our ecosystems and why we should be concerned about their loss.


For Samanta Batra Mehta, nature is “a metaphor for the body (and vice-versa) and as a site for germination, nourishment, degradation, trespass, plunder, colonisation and transgression.” Though the plant forms she depicts are an artistic rendering rather than an exact replica, they are informed by historical botanical illustrations, and by observing the plants in places where she has travelled and lived, including Mumbai and New York.

Mehta also draws upon accounts and memories of the ornamental and kitchen gardens created by her grandfather – a botanist, college professor and agricultural scientist who fled violence during the Partition of 1947 – which he had to leave behind and eventually nurtured again in North India. Mehta says that “these fantastical gardens conjured by my families’ collective imagination, the larger debates underpinning them and themes in my own migration to New York appear frequently in my art.” She pays homage to her grandparents’ journey in Return to the Garden, 2019, where she “transcends time” by superimposing botanical and anatomical drawings, symbolising life, in red ink on vintage photographs and antique book leaves.

Samanta Batra Mehta, (top) Return to the Garden; (bottom) detail images, 2019, ink drawings made with hand dipped stylus, vintage/antiquarian photographs, book pages, map (20 parts), installation variable, approx. 75 x 75 inches. Photo courtesy the artist and Tarq Gallery, Mumbai

Samanta Batra Mehta, The Language that I Know, 2013, mixed media on paper, 4-part series with each part 11 x 15 inches. Photo courtesy the artist and Shrine Empire Gallery, New Delhi.
As such, plants in her work become a symbol of temporality and connection across time, and of the body with the natural world, also seen in Mehta’s earlier works such as The Language That I Know, 2013 and Silent Witness, 2010. In 2020, she will participate in a residency in Wave Hill, a public botanical garden in New York. She said, “While exploring Wave Hill, I was delighted to discover several plants that you see in Mumbai such as ficus, dracena, elephant ears in their greenhouses. I also discovered the powder puff plant (calliandra emarginata) there. My botanist grandfather cultivated the same calliandra plant in his gardens in North India. This plant has become an emblem in much of my artwork centered around themes of memory, migration, identity and personal history.”
Sumakshi Singh, Water Algae, 2016, suspended thread and shadow drawing, 11″ x 12″. Photo: Sunder Ramu. Image courtesy the artist, shown in Arthouz Chennai.


The ephemerality of memories and the need to preserve them are themes also explored in the work of Sumakshi Singh. Her series In the Garden and Leaving the Terrestrial: Its Own Kind of Archive feature delicate flowers and plants made of thread and wire, held in glass bottles and frames or levitating above the ground. The artist has said, “I just started making flowers and plants in embroidery, didn’t understand why […] It was only later that things got clearer as to why I was doing what I was doing. My mom would press flowers in between pages and send it to me by post. I was trying to flatten out, archive, preserve and record the memories.”
Sumakshi Singh, In the Garden 2 (detail), 2016, stop motion animation projected on screens and botanical forms. Image courtesy the artist, shown at Saatchi Gallery, London
In the Garden is Singh’s ode to her mother’s garden, as well as the garden planted by a Swiss friend, both of which outlived their creators and are resurrected in a gallery through Singh’s immersive art. The series includes stop-motion animations of plants, birds and fireflies projected on transparent screens, allowing viewers experiential access to these gardens, to which they will bring their own array of memories and emotions. At the same time, as with the skeletal thread forms, the viewer is constantly aware of walking through a surreal but transient experience, like living in someone else’s imagination. Leaving the Terrestrial takes this a step further, where imagined plant and maritime specimens are exhibited in the style of a mock natural history museum. The natural world becomes a reminder to be present, appreciate and preserve.


Rohini Devasher has set herself the task of contemplating, even anticipating, alternatives and futures. In many of her works, she imagines “what might always have been, but perhaps we never looked closely enough.” She views the botanical world as a site for confrontation, memory-making, self-reflexiveness, as well as “a pointer to something else” – her practice often explores the idea of a nature that “looks back […] that is non-passive, in turn idyllic, uncanny, threatening, and seductive […],” she says.
Rohini Devasher, Arboreal (detail), 2011, set of 20 archival pigment prints on Hahnemühle Fine Art Baryta paper, 20 x 24 inches each. Image credit: Rohini Devasher, courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai.

Elsewhere, Devasher said that she had been “exploring some ideas put forward in Goethe’s Botanical writings in which Goethe’s search for “that which was common to all plants without distinction” led him to evolve a purely mental concept of the archetypal plant. This archetype, when translated into art by some of his followers, resulted in what one writer has described as a ‘botanist’s nightmare’ consisting of all known leaves and flowers combined around a single stem. […] What result are hybrid organics that float in a twilight world between imagined and observed reality…forms in constant flux, in a state of continuous transformation. They could be denizens of a science-fictional botanical garden, specimens in a bizarre cabinet of curiosity or portents of a distant future.”

Interested in patterns, Devasher thinks of the botanical as a way to explore the mathematical in an engaging manner. In Arboreal, 2011, a video and photography-based work, the artist draws upon the Lindenmayer system of modelling plant growth and development. The recursive nature of the system creates branching, or fractal forms reminiscent of trees in the natural world. According to an exhibition statement by gallery Nature Morte, “If we consider the Arboreal video to be the archetype or ideal tree, then the Arboreal prints are a window to the other trees that could also have been. Once again these are generated by the layering of selected still frames of video, stacked one on top of the other. What results is a digital forest, a greenhouse of possibilities.”

The speculative or science-fictional perspective is explored in works such as AtlasPhaenogamia or the Atlas of Mimetic Flowering Plants, 2018 and the Genetic Drift series, which are as much about botanical accuracy as subverting it to consider a new visual vocabulary altogether. Atlas draws from specimens found in the R. L. McGregor Herbarium at the University of Kansas, deposited as far back as 1893, but the artist alters them to resemble varied animal forms. The process of creation involved photographing the specimens, and then modifying the images using Photoshop, pencils and acrylic. The series Genetic Drift presents hybrids – layered composites created using nearly 300 photographs and drawings collected by the artist in botanical gardens across the world.

Rohini Devasher, Genetic Drift: SYMBIONT I – Hymenoptera Magnoliophyta (wasp flower), 2018, drawing on archival pigment print, 60 x 80 inches. Image credit: Rohini Devasher, courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai.
Rohini Devasher, Atlas Phaenogamia or the Atlas of Mimetic Flowering Plants (Page 3). Image credit: Anil Rane, courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai.
Through such works, Devasher seeks to make the familiar strange, and questions whether our ability to imagine is based on what we see around us, and limits how we respond to a crisis. She explains, “Strange-ing as a practice explores the inter-connectedness of our relationship to the planet and offers a perspective that may be useful to our imagination of our future in both shaping and living within it. When walking a fine line between wonder and the uncanny, it can change how we see the world.” And in a fast-paced, ecologically precarious world where the inconceivable is rapidly coming true, both perception and perspective are essential to working towards a future where the only gardens aren’t those from imagination or memory.

About The Author

Kriti Bajaj is an Editorial Manager at Saffronart, a leading international auction house specialising in Indian art. She has been an arts and culture editor and writer for over six years, and was previously Managing Editor of Art Radar and Asia and Europe Copy Editor at Blouin Artinfo. From 2016 to 2018, she mentored students and professionals from all over the world enrolled on Art Radar’s online Certificate in Art Journalism and Writing course. Her articles have appeared in publications such as Aesthetica (UK), The Hindu (India), The Calvert Journal (UK), Tribe (Dubai) and Cotonoha (Japan). She lives and works in Mumbai.
Header Image: Samanta Batra Mehta, The Language that I Know (detail), 2013, mixed media on paper, 4-part series with each part 11 x 15 inches. Photo courtesy the artist and Shrine Empire Gallery, New Delhi.

Artificial Intelligence (AI): The pathway to immortality or extinction?

A still from Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis (1927)
Often the biggest challenge for any filmmaker trying to tell a story with an AI character as its central focus is to endow that character with basic human traits, whether good or evil. This is important to essentially make the character relatable to a human audience. Just think of the best known AI characters in movies and the human traits pretty much speak out: be it the robot Futura invented by Rotwang in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) or the Tin Man in Victor Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz(1939) or the supercomputer HAL 9000 in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey(1968) or C-3PO in George Lucas’ Star Wars (1977) or the replicant Roy Batty in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982) or T-800 in James Cameron’s Terminator 2 (1991) or the NDR android servant Andrew in Chris Columbus’ Bicentennial Man (1999) or Chitti in S. Shankar’s Enthiran (2010) or David8 in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus (2012) or Ultron in Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) or Ava in Alex Garland’s Ex Machina (2015) or the cyborg Alita in Robert Rodriguez’ Alita: Battle Angel (2019). But probably the AI character that appears to be more human than all these is the Mecha child David, essayed by Haley Joel Osment, in Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001).
A still from Chris Columbus’ Bicentennial Man (1999) featuring Robin Williams as Andrew, an android servant

While A.I. was directed by Steven Spielberg it was originally conceived by none other than Stanley Kubrick himself in the late ’70s. Based on a short story titled “Super-Toys Last All Summer Long” by Brian Aldiss, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, as envisaged by Kubrick, was meant to be a robot version of Pinocchio. But Kubrick had to drop the idea when he realized that computer animation was not advanced enough to create the character of David, the Mecha child who dreams of becoming a real boy for his mommy who has adopted him to fill the void created by her real son’s rare medical condition that has indefinitely placed him in a state of suspended animation. The underlying trouble was that Kubrick was hooked to the idea of building a robot boy using computer graphics instead of casting a boy actor for the part of David as he feared that a human actor might look too human. Also since Kubrick took time to shoot his films, there was a risk that the boy would age and therefore change considerably during the time. Finally in the year 1995, he decided to handover the project to his longtime friend and fellow filmmaker Steven Spielberg.

Kubrick was somehow convinced that only Spielberg, known for meeting tight deadlines, could do justice to the story both emotionally (having already made a film like E. T.) as well as on the technical front (having just made Jurassic Park). For some reason or the other the project kept on getting delayed but after Kubrick’s sudden death in 1999, Spielberg took it up on a priority basis, even getting Tom Cruise’s consent before postponing the shooting schedule of Minority Report (2002) in order to realize his friend’s dream project. Spielberg, the most commercially successful filmmaker of all time, often gets lauded for his ability to deliver humongous blockbusters that are often loaded with cutting-edge computer graphics. But people often forget that what really makes these films tick is how well Spielberg handles the human emotions: be it the alien in E.T. or the Mecha child in A.I. or the giant in The BFG. Also, Spielberg is often accused of selling escapism in the name of cinema but those who understand his work well are aware that even his most commercial films endeavor to ask moral questions about the way the human society operates.

Now, A.I. despite all its fanfare is not one of his typical commercial films. A lot of questions that A.I. asks have actually become the basis of not only how cinema looks at AI characters but also how the human society may look at artificial intelligence in the times to come. The question that’s central to A.I. Artificial Intelligence is that if a robot could genuinely love a human being, what responsibility does that person hold towards that robot in return? While the idea of human beings loving back robots, or for that matter, artificial intelligence based programs in the real world may seem a bit farfetched at this point in time, films such as Blade Runner, Her, Ex Machina, Blade Runner 2049, and even Enthiran to some extent have already taken us in that direction as far as cinematic possibilities are concerned. But the human societies in none of these films talk about robot rights.

A still from a short film by Sujoy Ghosh titled Anukul (2017).
Also, when Isaac Asimov devised his “Three Laws of Robotics” he was primarily interested in the wellbeing of the humans as evident from the first two laws. While the third law does talk about robot protecting its own existence, the first two laws supersede it completely. That’s precisely where a short story by the legendary Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray stands out. Titled “Anukul”, it was written by Ray in the year 1976. Sujoy Ghosh adapted it into a short film of the same name in 2017.The story is set in a world where the android robots have rights and human beings aren’t allowed to ill-treat them. But if a human still hits a robot or tries to harm it physically the robot is legally entitled to give a high voltage electric shock to that person. Meanwhile, in the real world, Sophia, a modern marvel of artificial intelligence, developed by a Hong Kong-based company, has already been granted the right of citizenship of a country. Also, it has been named the United Nations Development Programme’s first ever Innovation Champion—the first non-human to be given any United Nation’s title.
Humanoid robot Sophia, popularly dubbed as the “citizen robot”, was named United Nations Development Programme’s first ever “Innovation Champion” in 2017
Now, the comparison between what Ray depicts in his Sci-Fi short story and the dystopian societies that we usually come across in the films of the West is a reminder of the egalitarian ideas that the Oriental writings try and propagate. While Ray himself was greatly influenced by Western science fiction writers like Jules Verne, HG Wells, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C Clarke, his Sci-Fi writings are deeply rooted in the Indian values of inclusivity, compassion, nonviolence, forgiveness, and humanism. Ray wrote extensively for leading science fiction magazines and journals, leaving an indelible influence on the science fiction literature. Also, speaking of Ray’s legacy to Sci-Fi cinema, it has been widely speculated over the years that ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), one of the early successes in Spielberg’s career, wouldn’t have been possible without the ill-fated screenplay that Ray wrote for his science fiction dream project The Alien, inspired by his own short story titled “Bankubabur Bandhu” published in the children’s magazine Sandesh in the year 1962. During the late-60s, Ray made a series of trips to the US, UK, and France in a bid to realize the project with the backing of a major Hollywood studio. Unfortunately, the film was never made. About fifteen years later, Ray got the shock of his life when he watched ET. He was convinced that the Spielberg film couldn’t have been made without his script of The Alien. A recently released book titled Travails with the Alien – The Film that was Never Made and Other Adventures with Science Fiction documents the series of events revolving around the controversy.
A still from the HBO television series Westworld (2016)

In the context of sentient robots gaining rights and becoming capable of loving other beings, an important question about their changing status in the futuristic societies also arises. Will they continue to serve the mankind or will they ever challenge their authority? Popular film series like The Terminator and The Matrixhave already introduced us to dystopian worlds dominated by the machines. On the other hand, the HBO series Westworld, inspired by a 1973 film of the same name written and directed by the noted Sci-Fi author Michael Crichton, depicts a struggle between the humans and the android hosts in technologically advanced Wild-West-themed amusement park originally built to gratify its wealthy patrons. Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 too pit the human race against the bio-engineered synthetic humans called replicants.

Even as Sophia continues to improve in terms of its outwardly similarities to the human beings in the real world, the humanoid robots in the aforementioned films and series have become so good that passing the Turing Test is no longer a concern for them. The real test, just as a character in Ex Machina says while referring to an AI named Ava with a human-looking face but a robotic body, is “to show you that she’s a robot and then see if you still feel she has consciousness”. In the film, Ava slowly transforms into a beautiful girl and is able to escape to the outside world and merge with the human population. Perhaps, the day is not too far when the likes of Sophia would be freely walking amongst us. And then perhaps there will also come a time when the AI, bestowed with the gift of immortality, will mock the ephemerality of the human life à la David8in Alien: Covenant.

Alicia Vikander as Ava in Alex Garland’s film Ex Machina (2014)

Perfecting the AI is perhaps the biggest challenge that’s ever been presented to mankind. But the day it is perfected, the human race is certainly set to lose its supremacy to a superior race. The likes of Black Mirror, Love, Death & Robots, Ex Machina, and Westworld have already prepared us for the worst. But not all future possibilities look so grim. With AI already entering our lives there are endless benefits that await us. Now, the Steven Spielberg blockbuster Minority Report, based on the short story by the noted Sci-Fi author Philip K. Dick, talks about a futuristic world wherein PreCrime, a specialized police department, stops murderers ever before they commit the heinous act. On similar lines, the UK is trying to develop an AI-based system that will analyze police records and assign individuals with a risk factor for committing future crimes.

A publicity still featuring Tom Cruise from Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report (2002).

The Netflix series Altered Carbon, based on a 2002 novel by Richard K Morgan, is set in a futuristic world wherein human consciousness can be stored digitally and downloaded into new bodies. Already a startup called Humai working in the field of artificial intelligence and nanotechnology is trying to develop a technology to transfer human consciousness to a robot’s body. If such a breakthrough is made, the human life wouldn’t be so ephemeral after all. The animated film WALL·E set in the distant future tells the story of a waste-collecting robot. Mankind can certainly do with an army of such robots. Today, the biggest problems that the world is facing have environmental origins. Perhaps, AI can offer some solutions. Only recently at an Amazon event, actor Robert Downey Jr. shared his plans to launch a foundation that would use AI and nanotechnology to clean up the environment.

So, as we look at the future, even as the dark, dystopian, and diabolical threats of artificial intelligence continue to lurk in the remotest crevices of our minds, the human race looks set to embrace the rise of AI and the new revolution that it will usher in the field of medicine, genetics, architecture, biotechnology, travel and transportation, VR, surveillance, food production and preservation, prosthetics, cryogenics, and plastic surgery, among others. What was earlier only possible in the world of science fiction has today become a reality. There is little doubt that the thought leaders of science fiction, now more than ever will continue to be at the forefront of scientific innovation. All we can hope for is that while riding this unstoppable juggernaut of technological advancement we also succeed in rubbing off our humanity on the sentient beings that we may end up creating one day. Perhaps then we can rightfully claim to have perfected the AI.

Header Image: Caption: Feature above: Haley Joel Osment as the mecha child David in Steven Speilberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

About The Author

Murtaza Ali Khan is a film critic / journalist based out of Delhi, India. He is the Films Editor at Café Dissensus (New York) and is a regular contributor to The Hindu, The Sunday Guardian, and The Patriot. He has also contributed to Newslaundry, The Huffington Post, The Quint, DailyO, etc. Murtaza regularly appears as a guest panelist on various television channels and is also associated with radio. He teaches digital filmmaking to media students and regularly conducts workshops and seminars on film appreciation and screenwriting.

Art and Technology | Impact on artist practices at the turn of the 21st century in India

In the ‘90s India witnessed a tectonic shift when erstwhile finance minister Manmohan Singh’s liberalization policies transitioned India into a free market economy, with increased foreign direct investment. The percolation of technology seeped through the country’s (primarily urban) landscape, with internet being made publicly available in 1995 (Mint 2015) and 4G in 2010 (Ghosh and Mishra 2015). In this period, the influx of the internet through social networks, websites, online streaming services, and the e-commerce industry revolutionized how we travelled, communicated, shopped, consumed culture, and of course, made art.

This article is a condensation of my written and oral interviews with 11 Indian contemporary artists whose art practices were initiated in the ‘90s. This temporal sub-set of artists aids a sharper study about the “before” and “after”, providing a glimpse into the impact of liberalization on their practices. The scope of my query attempts to understand how the growth of access to information, social media platforms which changed the quality of information shared, rapid developments in technology like film, audio and video projection, affected art practices before and after this internet boomThe essay is not concerned with “technology in art” broadly, but specifically on the impact technology has had on existing art practices of that time.

Aar Paar, which took place simultaneously in Mumbai and Karachi in 2000 and 2002[1], included ten artists from each city who developed single colour works which were exchanged across the two countries via email, to be printed locally and inserted into public spaces (Mulji 2000)

Images: ‘Blame’ is pasted at the Sindhi Muslim Society, in Karachi, 2008 (left); Shilpa Gupta’s poster ‘Blame’ (right).
Shilpa Gupta remembers, “waiting by the computer and listening to the ring of the dial-up modem when it tried again and again to connect to the internet. In the second edition of Aar Paar, we could share files only below 1MB. The net was very slow those days” (Gupta 2019). Similarly, Neha Choksi mentions that her research-based work in 2001 required slow library research of every trip the US President made abroad to Asia from 1900 to 2000 through newspapers available physically or on microfilm, and microfiche—to source press photos and images, with the places and dates of travel available from the US government archives.
Images: Neha Choksi, four stills from Last Words First Cry, 2013, HD video, black and white, stereo, 5’ 54”(top) Last words attributed to: Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something – Pancho Villa Boy, fetch my fiddle – Robert Roy MacGregor Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough – Karl Marx Cold Harbor. June 3rd. I am dead. – Union soldier Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow. – Steve Jobs (below) The American President Travels East, research sketch materials, 2001-2002

In contrast, researching in mid-2000s for the last words spoken by famous people in Last Words, First Cry, was easier as the information was found online without the aid of a physical library or reading biographies (Choksi 2019). Some artists affirm that the increasing types of technologies – video projection, audio recordings, digital printing – expanded the range of artists’ practices to include film and photography as mediums. The most prominent example is that of Gigi Scaria, who was exposed to a digital camera in 2001 in Italy, which were unavailable in India at the time. This led him to make his first video work in 2002 through a TRV25 Sony movie camera and because of that, film and audio based art work formed a crucial part of his ongoing practise (Scaria 2019).

Subsequently, processes for the documentation of artwork to understand mediums better, the scale of their work, as well as maintainence of records, changed rapidly for the artists. Jitish Kallat recalls working on a 20 ft painting in the mid-90s in a 10 ft by 10 ft room, and to understand how the final artwork was taking shape he would photograph sections of it. Then, a “one-hour-photo” studio would print them from the negative of the camera roll and he would place them together to understand the larger whole. This today can be viewed by him on his laptop soon after “stitching” photos clicked by his phone (J. Kallat 2019).

Images: Dhruvi Acharya, Three stages of working on a 32 feet mural, 2013 —working on layouts with scanned drawings(top); computer aided full colour layout(middle); final work(bottom).
The process is now pre-emptive. Dhruvi Acharya understood the scale of her 32 ft mural this way, and it resolved having to make changes on site, as was the case earlier (Acharya 2019). For Manish Nai, 3D printing his rough sculpture models gives him a keener idea of how his work will be created (Nai 2019).
Images: Reference images of natural formations clicked by Aditi Singh to compare the quality of image. Hand held Leica camera Images 1996-2000 (top) ; I Phone images 2012 (bottom).
Aditi Singh always documented natural formations like skies, mountains and rivers as part of her practice. With increasingly better cameras and image making, detailed process documentation through videos, audio clips and photos aids this process. She can now document the texture and color of red ion pigment at the stones in Canadian Rockies in response to flowing water or changing day light, by making short videos (Singh 2019).
Images: 3D printed replica used for Kenosis, 2015 digital print of terracotta replica of artist’s heart, disintegrating in water.

Yardena Kurulkar’s Kenosis, 2017 takes this engagement with technology a step further where 3D printing enabled her to do something un-precedented: excavate her own internal organ—the heart—and create an exact replica of it (Kurulkar 2019).

A similar evolution is also seen in the role of printing and photocopying devices. ‘In the 90s, the fax machine and photocopy machine, the camera – were my collaborators’ recalls Kallat as he used to incorporate them as participants in his creative process (J. Kallat 2019). Gupta recalls small naka shops of xerox machines and desktop publishing counters and printers, where she used to lay out the text of the two-page arts school newsletter she published during the mid-90s. In this, enlarging and reducing the size of an image, or decreasing and increasing the size of any font being used in an art-work required repeated efforts (Acharya 2019). This same ecosystem of small printers and photocopy machine outlets are still readily available today, “still are very much part of one’s extended studio, shared and on the streets” (Gupta 2019).

Overtime, the type of dependency on machines has shifted. Any desktop computer or laptop now aids in assessing exact layouts in the preparatory stages of artwork creation. This increased efficiency also aids in matching color schemes to placing diptychs and triptychs together, so paint, canvases and other raw materials are procured down to the exact requirement.

Additionally, former training and experience of the artists impacted how they navigated this transitory phase. Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra provide an interesting contrast because both their postgraduate degrees are in visual communication and communication design, respectively, and hence there was a seamless adoption of newer computer software and programmes as the internet age beckoned them (Thukral and Tagra 2019). Being part of the advertising world also kept Acharya in grips with the changing technological landscape.

Slowly, it became about sifting from the information that is constantly coming towards artists, rather than seeking it out from scratch. Viewing interviews, archival material, academic research, images online now does not necessitate the number of library visits or largescale field research which were the norm earlier. Information has been accessible on our handheld devices in the last decade, and on PC and laptop computers since the early 2000s (Rajaraman 2012).

Images: (top) Barapullah painting reference from 19th century book, (middle) Barapullah photo reference, (middle) final work Falling Fables, acrylic on canvas, 2011; (Appendix) Sites visited and photographed for Falling Fables research by Reena Kallat.
Images: (Appendix) National Centre for Missing People data research by Reena Kallat (right)Synonyms, acrylic paint, rubberstamps, plexiglas, 2007-2009, Installation view.
Image : Hindenburg Line, Electric wires, steel nails, charcoal, embossed and laser cut arches paper, 2019. Hindenburg line is the boundary dividing Germany and Poland.

Reena Kallat espouses this when she explains that her research for Falling Fables, 2011 and Synonyms, 2009 required setting up meetings through landlines with ASI officials, police stations, VISA offices, months or sometimes years in advance, to now accessing the details of such endangered heritage sites, missing persons reports’ and visa denial reports available online.

This shift enabled Kallat’s Hyphenated Lives, 2015 and Leaking Lines, 2019 series, to expand their scope from regional information about border disputes within South Asia to looking at global disruptions through international territorial disputes, like US-Cuba, Israel-Palestine, Germany-Poland and Croatia-Serbia (R. Kallat 2019).

Evolution, not Inception | Ideas about Art

In this burgeoning technical landscape, our conversations also highlighted anchors that ground an artists’ practice in an overwhelming mass of information, and the closing gap between the real and virtual worlds. Jitish Kallat sequentially contextualizes global information received with a time-lag throughout the 80s to the 2000s, to real time information in multiple modes all the time after that. To indulge and abstain at the same time from this powerful influx of constant information is the balance he recommends to artists today, and practises himself, by not creating a presence on Instagram or Facebook. Acharya mentions that social media platforms can offer glimpses into the processes of art-making when artists post images of works in progress or making-of videos, but it can also create an alternate virtual reality of only successfully completed art works, shying away from the angst, turbulences, failings, doubt, half-attempts that any artist goes through in their practice. This creates a different set of expectations in today’s world, as compared to a time when the art works in books and the art works of peers were the only barometers to compare one’s work with. In a striking contrast, these interactions with audiences through social media have added another element to the performative part of Mithu Sen’s practice, which she continues to explore (Sen 2019).

Images: Mithu Sen’s Instagram posts, Selection of these posts to make her 100 unique edition poetry book, Installation, UnMYthU solo show, 2018. Image Courtesy: Chemould Prescott Road and the Artist, Photo Credit: Anil Rane
Most artists mentioned that the increased pace of receiving information has not increased the pace of the creation of their artwork. While the intermediary between the artist, and information, has a reduced presence now, processing this influx of information and conceptualization requires “the same amount of work and reflection, if not more!”, a significant point made by Sen and echoed by Kallat. Kurulkar relies on the expertise of doctors and imaging experts to truly understand and outline the borders of the organs she wants to work on, and the ability to forge a connection with them is a crucial step.
Images : Field and Research Visit, Sangrur, Punjab, Thukral and Tagra Studio Archive, 2018, Image courtesy, Thukral and Tagra Studio
Images : Assemblage of images : Ongoing work in studio; Projection Mapping, 2019

Nai mentions how his collaboration is more dependent on the technical expertise of civil engineers, carpenters, aluminum framers, than on technology in and of itself. Similarly, Tagra and Thukral echoed how more information about the aspects of the farmers crises’ is more widely available since they have been researching for their interactive experiential art work Bread, Circuses & TBD 2019, but in no way does that undermine the act of engaging with the farmers in Punjab to create a knowledge base to create artwork from.

Learning & Pedagogy | A Changed Audience

Acharya and Kurulkar poignantly mention that to learn any art technique outside of art school, or to access an art critic’s article, or see art works of other artists, their only options were books, the slide library and exhibition catalogues. Overtime, how one “learnt” about art changed and is changing. Accessing information about art through online international art journals, magazines and blogs was possible. Witnessing conversations about art taking place across the globe through panel discussions on YouTube, as well as online certified art courses from auction houses and universities evolved the pedagogy of art, not just for artists, but for the art viewing audience as well.

The value of the exhibition catalogue has evolved from being the only segue into an artists’ past exhibitions to now being virtually available as a nifty PDF circulated on WhatsApp or through AirDrop. The digital footprint of artwork documentation is much larger with handheld phone cameras, sophisticated art management systems like Art Logic, or even simply, professional cameras that record artwork and exhibition displays. Along with instant real time video and photo documentation of exhibitions today, breakthroughs in Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality globally (Bonasio 2018) and in South Asia, significantly impact how audiences are consuming art. With the explosion of viewing images of art through many platforms other than just where the art work is displayed—mobile apps, social media platforms on phones and virtual reality tours on computers—an audience can get art-fatigued faster and it can become a unique challenge for artists to now hold the audience’s attention and sustain it.

Future-Proofing (?) And Reflecting

Receiving responses to my questions about the transformative impact of the influx of technology highlighted changes in artwork production, documentation and scope that occurred as an immediate by-product of technological advancements. It helped map the significant long-term shifts in making, learning, sharing, seeing, and thinking about art, that came to the fore. As echoed by many artists who were interviewed, this proliferation of technology helped and helps in the evolution of the artwork, but not in the inception of the artwork itself. It can be understood that technology has impacted artists’ practices at the turn of the millennia, be it through research scope, access to information, documentation, pedagogy as well as the audiences that consume art. Though there is one response which has resonated collectively across most of the artists referred to in the essay: that the human connection is the core for creating, interacting with, ideating about—art. It cannot be replaced with, but only complemented by, technological advancement.


Refer to Printing across borders: the Aar-Paar Project by Chaitanya Sambrani, presented at the Fifth Australian Print Symposium, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2004

Acharya, Dhruvi, interview by Shaleen Wadhwana. 2019. Impact of Technology on Art Practises at the Turn of the 21st Century in India (September).

Adam, Georgina. 2018. Financial Times Art Market Collecting. 27 July.

Bonasio, Alice. 2018. Forbes. 20 June.

Choksi, Neha, interview by Shaleen Wadhwana. 2019. Impact of Technology on Art Practises at the Turn of the 21st Century in India (September).

Ghosh, Shauvik, and Ashish K. Mishra. 2015. The Birth of the Internet in India. 30 June.

Gupta, Shilpa, interview by Shaleen Wadhwana. 2019. Impact of Technology on Art Practises at the Turn of the 21st Century in India (October).

Iyengar, Radhika. 2018. Can Artificial Intelligence impact art in the 21st century? 25 August .

Kallat, Jitish, interview by Shaleen Wadhwana. 2019. Impact of Technology on Art Practises at the Turn of the 21st Century in India (September).

Kallat, Reena, interview by Shaleen Wadhwana. 2019. Impact of Technology on Art Practises at the Turn of the 21st Century in India (September).

Kurulkar, Yardena, interview by Shaleen Wadhwana. 2019. Impact of Technology on Art Practises at the Turn of the 21st Century in India (September).

Matney, Lucas. 2018. adds augmented reality art-viewing to its iOS app. 1 February .

—. 2018. Tech Crunch. 1 February.

McAndrew, Dr Clare. 2018. The Art Market 2018 An Art Basel & UBS Report. UBS.

Mint, Live. 2015. A Brief History of the Internet. 18 July.

Mulji, Shilpa Gupta and Hema. 2000. aarpaar 2002 and 2000.

Nai, Manish, interview by Shaleen Wadhwana. 2019. Impact of Technology on Art Practises at the Turn of the 21st Century in India (September).

Rajaraman, V. 2012. History of Computing in India 1955-2010. Bangalore: IEEE Computer Society History Committee.

Sambrani, Chaitanya. 2004. “Printing across borders: the Aar-Paar Project.” The Fifth Australian Print Symposium, National Gallery of Australia. Canberra.

Samdanis, Marios. 2016. “The Impact of New Technology on Art.” In Art Business Today : 20 Key Topics, by M. (2016)J. Hackforth-Jones Samdanis and I. Robertson, 164-172. London: Lund Humphries.

Scaria, Gigi, interview by Shaleen Wadhwana. 2019. Impact of Technology on Art Practises at the Turn of the 21st Century in India (September).

Sen, Mithu, interview by Shaleen Wadhwana. 2019. Impact of Technology on Art Practises at the Turn of the 21st Century in India (September).

Singh, Aditi, interview by Shaleen Wadhwana. 2019. Impact of Technology on Art Practises at the Turn of the 21st Century in India (October).

Sussman, Anna Louie. 2017. Artsy by ArtNet. 22 August.

Thukral, Jiten, and Sumir Tagra, interview by Shaleen Wadhwana. 2019. Impact of Technology on Art Practises at the Turn of the 21st Century in India (September).

[1] Refer to Printing across borders: the Aar-Paar Project by Chaitanya Sambrani, presented at the Fifth Australian Print Symposium, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2004

Appendix: List of physical sites and databases compiled as part of Reena Saini Kallat’s research.

About The Author

Shaleen Wadhwana has woven her academic and professional life extensively around the arts and heritage sector. Along with degrees in BA History (Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi) and MA Art History (SOAS, London), she has academic expertise in Art Appreciation (National Museum Institute, Delhi), was awarded the Scholarship of Excellence for Cultural Heritage Law (University of Geneva) and is a Young India Fellow (Ashoka University). She has presented her academic research on embedded histories in objects looted during the 1857 Great Uprising at University College London, England as well as on the repatriation politics surrounding the Kohinoor Diamond at India’s first Art Laws Conference, at the Piramal Learning University, Mumbai.

She has worked at museums and galleries ranging from the Heritage Transport Museum, Haryana to Chemould Prescott Road Gallery, Mumbai. Shaleen curates art and heritage based experiences for a wide spectrum of audiences ranging from universities like Michigan and Harvard to NGOs like Slam Out Loud and institutions like the Tribal Development Board of the Govt. of Maharashtra and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER). Currently, a visiting faculty at the Design Management Department of MITID Institute of Design in Pune, Shaleen is also the Humanities curriculum designer for the MITID Innovation programme. OSMOSIS, a contemporary art group show which was on display at TARQ Gallery in Mumbai, marks the beginning of her curatorial journey, the idea of which was born in her classroom in Pune. Her recently co-authored article about the impact of the Lodi Art District on the community around it, for the Ministry of External Affairs of India, has been published in India Perspectives, its widely read international e-journal.

An Archaeology of Silence: The Aniconic worlds of Mrinalini Mukherjee

Installation view of Phenomenal Nature, Mrinalini Mukherjee at The Met Breuer, 2019. Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art

“Our job is to make the Anthropocene as short/thin as possible and to cultivate with each other in every way imaginable epochs to come that can replenish refuge”.

— Donna Haraway, “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin”, Environmental Humanities

“But there is another reason why, from the writer’s point of view, it would serve no purpose to approach them in that way: because to treat them as magical or surreal would be to rob them of precisely the quality that makes them so urgently compelling—which is that they are actually happening on this earth, at this time”.

— Amitav Ghosh, The Great Derangement

The recently concluded retrospective on Mrinalini Mukherjee at the Met Breuer has revived dormant debates: Was Mukherjee isolated or cosmopolitan?; Is this elevation of craft to high art, tapestries to sculptures? Scholarship by Tania Guha, Victoria Lynn and Grant Watson has explored how such conceptual dichotomies are ill-suited to understanding Mukherjee’s labour, which reveals a deliberate dialectics of thought and form.

Given the retrospective and the accompanied attention to Mukherjee’s practice has coincided with the articulation of substantive civic concern with climate change—it is tempting to ask if the works present ways of thinking on urgent questions of ecology and the state of our planetary futures. This essay is concerned as much with the formal content of Mukherjee’s art as with the question of what it means to engage with these works amidst a growing public discourse on climate change.

Installation view of Phenomenal Nature, Mrinalini Mukherjee at The Met Breuer, 2019. Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Mukherjee (1949-2015), born to artists Leela and Benode Behari, grew up in the foothills of the Himalayas, and visited Santiniketan frequently, followed by degrees in painting and mural design at M S University, Baroda. She began exploring fibre as a natural medium for murals and tapestries before progressing to sculptural works. On being quizzed about what led her to select a rare medium such as natural ropes made of “san” or “shani”, which Mukherjee described as “close to hemp”, she remarked that it was inexpensive and easily available.1
Installation view of Phenomenal Nature, Mrinalini Mukherjee at The Met Breuer, 2019. Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art
She transitioned from fibre to ceramics, and eventually bronze (as a substitute for wax), producing sculptures that are dyed, knotted, glazed, or moulded in a distinct iconography that is tensile and taphonomic. Over four decades, she produced works of varying scale, materials and methods—structurally experimental, yet thematically cohesive. The retrospective, titled “Phenomenal Nature” curated by Shanay Jhaveri was an exhaustive survey of this corpus, showcasing works which have otherwise remained beyond the public domain. However, it was a remarkable departure from past strategies of exhibiting her works—Mukherjee’s monumental, vertical fibre sculptures, among other works, were ensconced in pastel curtains that appeared to float above ground as if suspended in aerial motion, ethereal and slight. Scholars such as Iftikhar Dadi have noted that the curtains added an air of theatricality, underscoring the dramatic import her works have always contained. In the presentation of works such as Black Devi (1980) and Pakshi (Bird, 1985), the curtains serve as a backdrop, heightening a scenographic impulse in her fibre-works and altering the spatial field of their presentation. While in the past smaller fibre works have been elevated on platforms, the retrospective placed these directly on the floor, surpassing the use of pedestals often deployed to signal a revered distance between the viewer and the exhibit. Hung vertically or splayed on the ground, the works appear either as portals or thresholds, inviting passage and urging trespass. One can speculate the impact of such display choices on the experience of viewing the work, but this much can be claimed—if this is theatre, its form is certainly of a promenade; we are spectators, and occupants.
Installation view of Phenomenal Nature, Mrinalini Mukherjee at The Met Breuer, 2019. Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Resonances with other aspects of theatre—staging, costuming, masks and accoutrements—is echoed in materials from Mukherjee’s personal archive, where Naman Ahuja has traced references to Kabuki, Theyyam, Kathakali and Noli.2 Among her fibre works the dominance of staging is most evident in Vriksha Nata (Arboreal Enactment), a careful arrangement of three sculptures, produced in 1991-1992. Sculptures such as Van Raja I and II (1991-1994) and Squirrel (1972) perform an ocular disorientation, presenting aspects of what is familiar to us, and what seems to be indescribably different. These forms have been considered, particularly in works such as Pushpa, as potentate representations of primal forces that animate the ‘essence’ of human life—spirituality and sexuality, the cycle of life and death. However there are possibilities to explore how Mukherjee’s artworks—specifically the fibre works—implicate the viewer and produce a feeling of estrangement, such that many have compared her sculptures to the non-human, delivering in effect a spectra of alterity: divine forces (deities), temporal residue (preternatural forms), hybrid figurations (an admixture of bio/zoomorphism). One could ask whether this identification of Otherness in sculptures that defy figurative comprehension emanates from an epistemic framework that privileges only certain constructs of bodies (the recurrent usage of “uncanny” in the scholarship on Mukherjee is telling). Mukherjee’s work is known for exceeding, and perhaps, transgressing the limits of “knowability” or what makes bodies tenable—it revolts against the “regulatory ideal” and the “affirmation by repetition” that produce our recognition of what is and what is not permitted to be a body. In Bodies That Matter (2011), Judith Butler argues that the construction of norms that governs the “materialization” of bodies, will also simultaneously create conditions of abjection, the “outside” of bodily legitimacy. For Butler, there are two arguments implicit in understanding that ascribing recognition to “bodies” is an act of power—there will always be that which is excluded from the fulcrum of this legitimacy (in fact, the abject serves the crucial function of asserting the form of legitimate bodies), and that to conceive of “nature” as a site or zone independent of social norms is facile. Butler quotes Derrida: “There is no nature, only the effects of nature: denaturalization or naturalization”.3 The “natural world” that we use as a reference to understand Mukherjee’s works is perhaps then, not an unmediated, extraneous, ahistorical entity, but something shaped and understood through an anthropocentric lens. It is possible to argue that in presenting forms—bodies, terrains, scenes—that repel immediate legibility, Mukherjee is demanding a not just a perceptual but a phenomenological shift in how we relate to and embody the world.
Installation view of Phenomenal Nature, Mrinalini Mukherjee at The Met Breuer, 2019. Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art

In the essay “Indian Roots for a Universal Idiom”Ahuja sieves through Mukherjee’s personal archive to present a photographic record of her visits across India and Southeast Asia, to temples and other sites of worship in ancient settlements, such as Hampi, Mahabalipuram, Ajanta and Ellora, Sitaranasal, Konark, Bhubaneswar. Mukherjee’s husband recorded the intricate facades of stone temples; figures of Nagas, Yakshis, Mithunas and Apsaras; and aniconic structures situated in the wild. The presence of foliage in these structures is regarded as intrinsic to the divinity of the site, and not viewed as encroachment or adornment. To Ahuja, the foliage and the structure are inextricable—the carvings and sculptures “emerge” from and are enframed by the vegetal expanse. He argues that through the rigorous documentation of the pastoral via photographic slides, and the production of three-dimensional sculptures that mimic the relief work on temple facades, Mukherjee is practicing “both an ethno-archaeology and a landscape archaeology in the contemporary”. This reading can be extended further to consider, does Mukherjee’s work and archive permit us to rethink the meaning of landscape itself?

Landscapes have traditionally been defined in a visual-representational plane, always accessed through the subjectivity of human presence. As much as landscapes have been viewed as mediated through the psyche, or in turn formative of human experience, in the study of art and photography it has been understood as inert—so much as the absence of human subjects is viewed as the reduction of pictorial function to a descriptive register that could be empty, or still. Landscapes exist as the domain of cultural and political practice, for W J T Mitchell, they are sites of power—and he has argued to shift the understanding of landscape from “a noun to a verb”.4 Mitchell states that the propagation of the contemplative gaze of the unencumbered subject of modernity has worked to conceal the imperial and industrial influence on the natural imagination from the early nineteenth century, where expeditions and excursions became symbols of annexation. As Karen Barad notes, our understanding of landscape as context for human activity has fundamentally shaped disciplinary tenets. She argues that “matter” is not, in fact, “little bits of nature, or a blank slate, surface, or site passively awaiting signification, nor is it an uncontested ground for scientific, feminist, or Marxist theories. Matter is not immutable or passive. Nor is it a fixed support, location, referent, or source of sustainability for discourse”.5 To view the matter as active beyond the human, driven as much by the biotic as the abiotic, is to think of the scalar impact of the Anthropocene, a period of intense human activity in the form of industrial and post-industrial processes, has propelled the extinction of landscapes, species and processes that may be difficult to revive.

Installation view of Phenomenal Nature, Mrinalini Mukherjee at The Met Breuer, 2019. Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art
How we understand the landscape is also a reflection of whether we recognise its simultaneous (re)formation by elements imperceptible to us. Farrier and Aeon reveal that like much of the abiotic substances, which may have anthropogenic origins, have far-reaching implications—such as plastic which appears “ostensibly inert, like Chernobyl’s ‘undead’ isotopes… are in fact intensely lively, leaching endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Single-use plastic might seem to disappear when I dispose of it, but it (and therefore I) will nonetheless continue to act on the environments in which it persists for millennia”. It is possible to situate in Mukherjee’s practice an affinity towards the discursive frame of deep time, “the immense arc of non-human history”.6 The biomorphic strain in her works has often been read in the vein of primordialism, but as Ahuja notes, “Mukherjee is no nostalgic conservationist”. That her sculptures revolt—at the level of definition and form, that they appear as event and as rupture, gestures towards a new poetics of being. Perhaps, the estrangement generated in confronting Mukherjee’s sculptures is a call to what Donna Haraway terms as “making kin”, a rethinking of relationality and responsibility that extends beyond genealogical, biological and species kinship. In the midst of the Anthropocene, the art of Mrinalini Mukherjee demands disruptive regimes of relational ethics, with radical implications for the notions of possession and belonging. What we owe, in confronting, the mythic-named figures of Mukherjee’s work is not awe, terror or splendor, but kinship—an exploration of the “more-than-human” world from beyond the location of bounded individualism. Consider again, the construct of the works produced from fiber, which are perforated and sinuous, held upright or slumped on the floor, assembled to present lifeworlds that seem within reach, perhaps right beneath our skin.


  1. Jhaveri notes how Mukherjee’s selection of the ubiquitous material such as natural ropes, was a highly unusual gesture, appended by her refusal of traditional looms in favour of provisional frames and armatures. Mrinalini Mukherjee, eds. Shanay Jhaveri and Grant Watson (Shoestring Publishers, 2019).
  2. Naman Ahuja, “Indian Roots for a Universal Idiom, ” in Mrinalini Mukherjee, eds. Shanay Jhaveri and Grant Watson (Shoestring Publishers, 2019).
  3. Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex” (New York: Routledge, 2013), 2.
  4. W J T Mitchell, Landscape and Power (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 1.
  5. Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2007), 151.
  6. David Farrier and Aeon, “The Concept of Deep Time is Changing,” The Atlantic, October 31, 2016, URL: Click Here

About The Author

Arushi Vats is a writer. She is interested in studying forms of capital, labour and eco-political consciousness in art and literature. She has written for Scroll and Quint in the past and continually worships at the altar of feline beings.

Archive Fever: From Celluloid to Digital Body

The silver screen—from the liquidated remains of the celluloid of cinema’s past—beckons us to consider the archival form through a slew of concerns that inform related fields of art and conservation. Celluloid film was the original vessel for photography and cinema; a living, breathing medium—one that deteriorates with every viewing.

Celluloid is almost organic through its wear, similar to an aging body. This decay is familiar to us, in how it mirrors the human condition of an omnipresent interplay between life and death, use and futility. Paradoxically, it is decay that determines how we assign the organic. Melting celluloid into silver was a common enough practice in India, since the 60s and 70s, which is telling in how we have valued our filmic, and ultimately, artistic and cultural heritage—from industry to institution.

The traditional form of the archive involves the imposition of overriding structures and systems of classification for organisation and ultimately, knowledge production. The archive seeks to be external to the object-form. However, there is an existential crisis, inextricably linked to the form of the archive; by its very nature the archive is self-defeating to its purpose, as it seeks to document experience(s) of the whole, to represent. French deconstructionist Jacques Derrida posited the archive as fueled and sustained, by the death drive, the Freudian bug that exists within nature and the human psyche, of the destructive drive to return to a state before the fact of birth. Vice versa, the death drive is said to be anarchic and refusing archivisation, inducing forgetfulness, gaps in memory and ultimately, destruction of its own traces—according to Derrida, it “devours it even before producing it on the outside”, a constant tension concurrent.

Derrida says that the consequence of the need for an external for an archive to exist, is “what permits and conditions archivisation” is that we will “never find anything other than what exposes to destruction.” There, the archive only works against itself.

Observed through the finitudes we experience and perceive, creates the archival impulse. Derrida characterised the archival impulse as a “fever” or perhaps more accurately, “feverish”, to express the erratic energy, a compulsivity, that directs itself towards achieving a “completeness”, to command and structure, and ultimately consume, by defining the whole.

Walter Benjamin spoke of a “foreboding” of an age where the impulse to collect only grows expontentially. The digital as form is a priori, in and of itself, an archival form–self-referential in nature. This in itself becomes the ultimate archival form in one sense, where it is alive as a repository and an interpretive space, that film scholar, Ashish Rajadhyaksha posits as the archive.

The digital form is seen as the truly archival image, according to cultural theorist, Okwui Enweazor. The digital file and form is its own archivisation, not relying on an external, i.e. separate from itself. With the fact of digital bootlegging, the digital file constantly undergoes replication and decentralised distribution, from institute/company to a worldwide userbase. The digital file exists in the multiples, against the singular source in analogue, and distribution networks are such that they are difficult to wipe out, being replicated ad infinitum. This becomes an interesting dimension, as it essentially has the capacity to resuscitate lost and endangered film material. Benjamin, in his canonical text “Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, emphasises the shift through the reproducible image, as not only technical or indexical, but temporal. This is where I propose the consideration of the digital file as cyborg body—one that corrupts at random and is aligned with the chaos of the inorganic. The digital can be endlessly replicated in theory, not requiring re-production. The almost primitive nature of digital distribution challenges and circumvents established channels of distribution in the “material” aspect, and the very form of the archive itself.

With the digital age, came the subsequent decentralisation of information, and subsequently film, creating networks of peer-to-peer sharing and communities that rallied to archive. This was easier to achieve in the digital form through torrenting, online streaming, peer-to-peer filesharing (remember MediaFire?) and other forms of digital bootlegging and hoarding. The early 2000s to mid-2010s was the era of digital accumulation. This was until the final blow to the global network of web piracy, in 2014, when the PirateBay headquarters, and subsequently other major sites were raided and servers seized.

These forms of dissemination allowed for rich repositories – personal in form – and restricted to thousands of hard drives across the world – a strange digital utopia. Of especially music and film, they served well especially, previously having been bound tightly by the distribution channels. Now through platforms like Mubi and Criterion Channel are now building archives of restored and rare films, for past and contemporary, though again limited by distribution channels and licenses—titles vary from country to country.

Preservation of films in the Indian context shows us a haphazard body of uneven preservation and conservation, where value is not met with the archival impulse. Beyond institutionalisation of our collective cinematic body, beyond internationally recognised directors like Satyajit Ray and Mani Kaul (whose films have been painstakingly restored, but at the same time, original material has faced decay and loss) and Bollywood, how do we keep attempts to preserve and circulate film alive? The Bazaar method of conservation refers to the material, unstructured, unorganised systems of circulation that exist in a decentralised form, which Rajadhyaksha talks about. He mentions the original print of Kannada actor Rajkumar’s first film Bedara Kannappa, that was thought to be lost, but was eventually found being regularly screened at a temple in Old Delhi, with the copy attained from Chor Bazaar. This seemingly antithetical form of conservation, that takes from the un-organised modes of circulation and eventual discard, presents a chaotic, almost anarchic form of consumption outside of the institutional space. These are fugitive responses to national and subsequently global knowledge suprastructures.

The Bazaar Conservation method, as termed by Rajadhyaksha, subverts the singularity of authorial intention in film conservation strategy. As with the expensive process of digitisation, there are constant questions that arise of value and the “canon” in Indian (and to extend, world) cinema, and the parameters to be drawn around what is to be salvaged for future generations and cultural history at large, and what we can “allow” to deteriorate and eventually disappear. The English word “archive” is traced to have been in use from early 17th century onwards, but its verb form has only been dated back to the late 19th century, which could lend an insight into the evolving form of the archive, and our conception of it, from simply meaning “public” or government records. Rajadhyaksha speaks of the archive not only as a repository, but also an “interpreative space”, i.e. a site for the production of knowledge.

The late PK Nair, obsessive film archivist and former director of National Film Archives of India, Pune, shared an anecdote in the documentary film Celluloid Man, of instances where Russian films, celluloid at the time, would be sent to the NFAI in exchange for Indian films the reel cases harbouring secret exchanges between the institutes and countries, a fugitive strategy of conservation, beyond established international (and legal) systems of trade. He would be fondly remembered by students at FTII for the open screenings, where he’d freely show films from the archive. This is commendable in relation to what Rajadhyaksha says about the Bazaar method. Beyond this, he is said to have singlehandedly spearheaded the mission of Indian film conservation at NFAI (to the extent of seemingly disrupting his own private life at times). Such strategies in play produce disruptions to the organising systems of power. In the digital age, the figure of the collector and archivist is shifting—presenting a “chaos of memories” in unorganised collections over several hard drives, as P.P Sneha, digital humanities scholar, writes.

In contrast, “prearchiving” in anticipation, according to Derrida, becomes an archival violence, where overriding structures are imposed, falsely, beforehand. This is opposed to “allowing” the archive to grow “organically”, unorganised. This is where he draws on notions of archival violence. The pre-emptive nature of this imposes an institutional violence in a underlying expectation of hierarchical considerations. The archival problem arises here—where does the outside (of the archive) commence?

The fast-evolving nature of technologies, paired with their past forced obsolescence, made the format of video up until the digital, unreliable. Problems range from preservation of analogue material that already exists, to interpreting, tagging, categorising and allocating other forms of signifiers so as to assure a future of the organised digital archive. Another problem being battled is the exponential increase in storage required for a present that is digitally conscious/self-aware. Archival digital material also needs to be in good condition in order to assure good digital copies that will continue to mark the file(s).

Even with the digital, we lament the quick random deaths of files, vastly different from the wear and tear of the celluloid body, to a erratic, random corruption of files. This chaotic impulse of the digital to destroy itself, so to speak, can be seen in comparison to the preservation of celluloid and other analogue forms of data storage. Digital film also needs constant restoration wherein there lies the problem of expense, again, along with suitable knowledge, skill, and strategies in consignation.

The Getty Research Institute uses a digital preservation software, that generates a “checksum”, which they compare to a fingerprint of a file, or a unique code, where a numerical value is assigned based on the weight of the file, which they intermittently use to compare and generate constantly, to prevent from decay, and restore from a backup copy. Though the backup copy is an infinite archival process as well, backup copies distributed across various servers hints at some hope.

The route to conservation and preservation lies outside of the institutional superstructures of knowledge-to-peer is a radical shift from the global scale of things, where the “local” becomes the antidote.


Sukanya Deb is an art writer and micro-curator online/ IRL. At The Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art (FICA), her work lies in developing public programmes and publications, and thinking alongside a live archive via Project_Space, and the Reading Room collection + material. She finds herself currently dwelling on/in disruption as technique, {memory, utterance, articulation} and re-thinking exhibitory formats.


In May 1942, Japan dropped the first bomb on Imphal, the capital of the then Princely state of Manipur. The second bomb followed within the week. The Allied British campaign against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan was bolstered by the military, industrial and financial facilitation provided by colonized India.1 The subcontinent served as a base for American operations in support of China, both Allied Nations as well. The Second World War—which was accompanied by heinous events like the Holocaust, orchestrated famines and the novelty of nuclear weapons in combat—resulted in the defeat of the Axis powers and marked the beginning of the Atomic Age.

While the residents of Imphal were fleeing their homes, refugees from Japanese-conquered Burma and the retreating soldiers of the British Indian Army were streaming through Manipur en route to Dimapur and Silchar, in what comprised the territory of Assam then. Imphal, being on the frontline of the British-colonised India and the Japanese-colonised Burma, found itself in a precarious predicament. It witnessed a surge in construction of airfields and army bases by the Allies who claimed air superiority in the Burma Theater. After the area was completely cut-off by land, the Allies used their privilege to provide supplies to their troops by air for months on end, while the Japanese soldiers stranded in the area gradually perished. The Battle of Imphal and the Battle of Kohima became turning points in the “South-East Asian Theater of World War II” and the campaign against the Allied Forces. The Japanese Army, which had formed a minor alliance with the Azad Hind Fauj or the Indian National Army under Subhash Chandra Bose, planned on conquering the Indian mainland and cutting off the supply route to China. This mission was named “Operation U-Go.” But the relentless monsoon proved to be a hindrance in the replenishment of supplies, forestalling the Japanese attack. The consequent starvation resulted in the Japanese defeat by the British Indian Army. Had the operation succeeded, the Allies would have faced a devastating blow and history would have taken a different route towards the present day.

The British Indian Army lost around 17,000 men while Japanese losses⁠—which also included INA troops⁠—are said to have amounted to more than 60,000 casualties.2 Muralidhar Sharma, an employee of the Public Works Department, was one of the thousands of civilians who were made to evacuate and abandon their homes in Imphal within a few hours. He lived to witness the people of his land fighting a war against each other for a purpose that did not make sense even to individuals who were convinced to fight imagined enemies.His grandson, Bheeshma Sharma, a recent post-graduate from the Sculpture Department at Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda, grew up listening to stories of the struggles faced by his progenitors. His oeuvre explores the incessant violence and devastation caused by man-made catastrophes—from annihilating wars to global warming—and embarks on a quest to make sense of the world in turbulent times.
One of the artist’s toys from childhood was a remnant of a Japanese bomb shell which possibly played a role in the destruction of his familial home, and which perhaps explains his fixation with metal. The fact that the very same metal which is used to build the foundation of a house in order to make it stronger, is also used to make the bomb that could destroy it within seconds, is not lost on Bheeshma. He welds small pieces of scraps together, bit by bit, wherein the metal is recycled, refurbished and resurrected in the form of his work. The home in which Muralidhar grew up was a humble structure of tin and wood in a corner of a large compound mostly occupied by a garden. He plucked mangoes straight from the trees planted here during his heyday. The forest nearby was believed to be inhabited by monsters and ghosts whose alleged existence was used as a threat by the adults to make sure the children behaved. Rapid modernization during and post the Second World War resulted in the building of highways, bridges and tarred roads over such childhood memories, denying further generations these experiences.
An earthquake of 6.7 magnitude struck Imphal in 2016, wreaking havoc on the artist’s hometown. Although his family was unharmed, an inexplicable fear led the artist to deeply corrode parts of a metal plate—a distorted map of the world, it reflects the repeated corrosion and distortion of his own memory of home. In another work, a mountain made of marble depicts the view from the window in his room in Imphal. The once tranquil landscape is symbolically wrapped in barbed wire, afflicted with the violent consequences of man’s enterprise. Excessive construction has led to the loosening of the soil causing nature to retaliate with frequent landslides. In essence, the work titled Contaminated House (2018-19) has everything—a roof, multiple rooms, an electricity pole suggesting its connectivity to a larger network, negating its isolation from the rest of civilization—and yet, it is bereft of any sign of life. It appears to be haunted by its own history or lack thereof. The abandoned construction premeditates the abandonment of the planet. Where will we go when we have razed our own world to the ground? Red Planet (2018-19) refers to the ongoing explorations on Mars to gauge its viability or potential to support human life, which is not such an alien concept anymore. In our desperation, we have started looking towards and embracing the “alien.” Maybe it makes us feel less alienated in our own world, in our own lives.
The history of his family piqued Sharma’s interest in the impact of war around the world. He conjures a post-apocalyptic landscape in Contaminated Zone (2018-19) treaded on by the “liquidators”—a term used to refer to the people who were hired, in effect sacrificed, to clean up the radioactive mess resulting from the accident at the nuclear plant in Chernobyl, USSR, in 1986. The only accident in the history of commercial nuclear power to cause fatalities from radiation, it was the result of flawed mechanism and lack of adequate safety measures.3 Exposure to radiation condemns people to isolation the way we are all condemned to an isolated life—we came alone, we will go alone. Most of the elements in his compositions serve to cause discomfort—sharp edges of the trees, barbed wire, gas masks. The figures were made using the dhokra or lost-wax technique which was practiced in the subcontinent as early as the Indus Valley Civilization. However, after coating the molded clay figures with wax, the artist observed that the wax mimicked the appearance of melting flesh and chose to leave the process unfinished.
After the Second World War, battleships were declared outdated as the new aircraft carriers took precedence in the navies. Manufacturing was halted and tons of metal was scrapped and forgotten like lost history. Today, the time to render something obsolete is reducing expeditiously. Who Owns the Biggest Gun (2018-19) is a comment on the futile race in which we are all partakers, one that diverts us from the real problems—the advancing Holocene extinction; the rising sea levels; the thawing permafrost; and other “ferocities”4 of global warming.
In the midst of building potentially habitable planets, war ships and dystopic landscapes, Sharma often goes back to simpler objects from a simpler moment, like the lantern, which is still used in his hometown. Times are changing rapidly where the only way to cling on to our sanity is to keep dipping our feet into cooling pools of nostalgia. All these works echo a common truth that man is not the kind to learn from his mistakes. He is adept at placing his hope in the wrong places—hope for more power to wield, hope for more ground to conquer, hope for more energy to exhaust, hope for more ammunition to use against each other. Hope for simply “more.” Perhaps the artist finds his sublimation in situating himself in a ubiquitous role—he is at once mankind, the nuclear bomb, as well as the contamination; the creator, the creation, and the destruction.


  1. Auriol Weigold, Churchill, Roosevelt and India: Propaganda During World War II (London: Routledge, 2008).
  2. Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), “Imphal and Kohima,” CWGC Online Archives, URL:
  3. Nuclear Engergy Institute, “Chernobyl accidents and its consequences,” NEI Factsheet, May 2019, URL:
  4. David Wallace-Wells, The Uninhabitable Earth: A story of the future (London: Allen Lane, 2019).

About The Author

Priyanka Tagore is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Art History & Aesthetics at Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda. She has previously worked for a private collection, Swaraj Archive (Noida), for four years as an archivist, researcher, programmer, and content writer. She holds a B.A. degree in English Literature.

The Mythos of Artificial Intelligence

From the early emergence of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries the romantic notions of artificial intelligence and robotics have left an impression upon the fanciful imaginations of the human mind, left to be expressed through our creativity. Whether it was H.G. Well’s canonical Time Machine and War of the Worlds or Mary Shelley’s modern day Prometheus tale Frankenstein, the role played by science and namely machines, machine-learning, robotics, and artificial intelligence, has only ever expanded. From the birth of science fiction we have constantly been in this phase of building a strong and virile mythos of AI which has been integral to our navigation of a world where this technology exists parallel to us. If we listen to the bravest and most daring of historians and scholars today, we are prompted to look further back to Hesiod and Homeric myths in Greek literature in an attempt to trace the timeline for just how long, did we as a race, remain fascinated by the implication of artificial intelligence.
The first known record of automated technologies comes from the Middle Ages. It was a time of rapid mechanical innovation, which included mechanic water devices, steam powered clocks, mechanical armies of archers, bronze heads, and fully automated gardens complete with mechanical aviary birds. E.R. Truitt’s book Medieval Robots: Mechanism, Magic, Nature, and Art, explores the trajectory of these inventions and how these early experimentations with primitive motor movements created the first roadmap for modern day AI. They sparked our understanding of the relationship between man and machine, its intersection with art, invention, and nature, and perhaps this was the first time that the question of giving man-made creation a consciousness, and the ability of having an independent existence, or a thought process, came to the fore. The question of drawing boundaries between what was nature and what was a mirror to nature, which is what AI attempts to be, was seeded in the time-period between the 9th and the 15th centuries.

Where was the line going to be drawn between the sacred and the god-given as separate from the artifice, the mechanical, and the man-made, these early scientific minds would come to wonder. A crucial debate today runs along those lines, and is perhaps approached with far more trepidation, and that is within the ethics of AI; the dangers that it may pose, with doyens in the field like Elon Musk raising an alarm. It makes one wonder whether this is the first time that these issues of giving power to AI in the form of consciousness have risen, did the early thinkers and inventors not consider the potential both positive and negative, and if they did what was their approach in coming to terms with it.

It is helpful to consider the spirit of the Renaissance period, where a deeply ingrained ideal of what drives creation was this notion of the divine and the muses, as is explored in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. These external entities were believed by many to be the source of their genius, and in having that external impetus behind these extraordinary inventions of artifices, it was perhaps easy to shoulder the responsibility that came with creating them. It made carrying the existential burden of giving machines and man-made inventions a consciousness, and creating something which one day may very well be beyond human control, not that urgent of an issue. Therefore, in that invigorating environment of scientific and creative temper, these mechanical innovations, the early AI experimentations (so to speak), became a medium for humanity to connect with the divine, with the universe, and with the very laws that founded the basis of human existence. Medieval automata gave those early thinkers the ultimate field of creation through which we could explain our own bodies and their relationship with our environments, forming the pillars of natural philosophy and paving the way for what we would come to develop as modern science.

Interestingly enough the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of the robot, a mechanical invention, is demarcated into two definitions. The first explicitly belongs to the realm of science fiction or scientific romances as they were once known and is something along the lines of, “a machine resembling a human being and able to replicate certain human movements and functions automatically.” Then there is the second definition which is meant for greater real-world application and states, “A machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically, especially one programmable by a computer”. It is a fascinating line of distinction drawn between these two remarkably similar definitions. The one of fictional realms is shockingly rudimentary and somewhat primitive, almost begging for an update, a surprising fact when one considers just how far the imagination and wonder in the realms of science fiction has been a precursor to reality. The process of creation begins from idea to thought-process to realisation to execution, and time and time again these ideas have germinated within the creative space of the human consciousness. This human consciousness which was built upon cultural myths, a collective of stories encapsulating the entirety of the human experience which historically imagined what a world driven by machines and AI technology would look like.

A look at these pre-scientific myths creates an eerie parallel between our approach to machines and AI, that is almost hard to miss. In the myth of Prometheus which went on to become a source of inspiration for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; Prometheus is the Titan who alongside his brother Epimetheus fought with the Olympians against their own race. It was said that it took the Olympian gods several tries to create man, much like it has taken us to create machine men or robots. The first attempt created the Golden Age, a race of men who lived with wisdom and peace, but were unable to procreate and thus perished naturally. The second attempt was the Silver Age, these men were cruel and unkind and did not honour the gods nor respect any natural hierarchy and thus were destroyed by Zeus. The third attempt was the Bronze Age, and these were men created from clay by Prometheus. In a quaint story, after a ceremonial offering of the bull to Zeus, Prometheus switched a gift of bull flesh from mankind to Zeus, for bones covered in hide, which offended Zeus so terrifically that he refused to share the gift of fire with man. In this tale fire symbolised civilisation, it became a means of moving towards gentility. This was consciousness, it opened the door to learning, knowledge, and independent thinking, and in keeping it from mankind Zeus was effectively maintaining the status quo maintaining an interdependence of mankind upon the gods. Prometheus stole the fire for man, giving him the independence and in many ways the freewill to have a true existence. Much like the way Zeus wanted to keep fire from man, we today want to keep consciousness from AI technology. In Hesiod’s tales he imagined the dilemma of having to relinquish control of one’s own creation and see it thrive in ways that leave us the creators as relics of the age, a concern that we are still wrestling with today.
In another tale we have Talos the bronze giant who guarded the island of Crete is perhaps the first mechanical robot to ever be imagined and was said to be created by Hephaestus, the god of blacksmiths. Thrice a day he would circle the island of Crete defending its boundaries. In classic texts he is described to have a bronze metal body with a tube running from his head to his feet, with a substance at his core known as ichor a gift from the gods, which brought him life. All invaders hoping to reach the shores of Crete would be slammed with boulders thrown by this great giant, when Jason and the Argonauts approached the shores they found it impossible to face Talos. Finally with the intervention of Medea a sorceress who tricked the giant into believing that she would make him human by removing the bolt at his feet subsequently draining him of life-giving fluid ichor, brought an end to Talos. Once again this mystical ichor, becomes a symbol of consciousness and independent thought, and each time the need to take back control is expressed through taking away this boon of consciousness as a way of maintaining the balance of power.
Even in the earliest myths our perception of the Automaton journey (what is now modern day AI technology) has been much like Pandora’s jar of miseries, which once unleashed cannot be contained or so we believe. What could be a fascinating medium of assistance, governance, creation, and more, is instead viewed with suspicion, trepidation, and downright fear. Sadly this is a reflection of the human condition and civilised society as we view it today, which through experience teaches us of corruptible power. In a world like this AI would stand a slim chance especially when its power to make rational decisions can become the very reason for its corruptibility. Perhaps in forming the area of greys and the in-between that comes with humane experience we could imagine a future of AI consciousness that is not nearly so dark, however if we are to go by the mythos created thus far and the mythos that is still being created the fundamental bond of trust necessary for this is deeply lacked. Even so at the bottom of Pandora’s jar lay the god’s gift of hope, that was meant to be the guiding light through the miseries wreaking the world. Perhaps in a similar vein through the creative expression and the gift of art we could perhaps imagine a gentler parallel existence of mankind and AI.
Header Image Caption: Giulio Bonasone |Epimetheus Opening Pandora’s Box | Engraving | 1531–76 Source: Wikimedia Commons

About The Author

Girinandini graduated in 2017 with a Masters in Creative Writing from Newcastle University, United Kingdom. While at university she published with various literary magazines like Prufrock, Waccamaw; a journal of contemporary literature, and Litro Magazine. Her work has also been included in Waccamaw Journal’s anthology of Best in Publishing:10 Years Retrospective and was nominated for the prestigious American Pushcart Award in 2018. She has worked with refugees and immigrants on storytelling and creative writing with the First Story Foundation in the United Kingdom and is passionate about language and the way writing and storytelling can help us build an understanding of the world. She currently is a freelance writer and has written for Outlook, Vogue, Architectural Digest, and Critical Collective.


Ex Natura July – October 2019

In 2010, Rohini Devasher stood atop Mount Saraswati to peer into an infinite cosmos at the Indian Astronomical Observatory in Ladakh. Devasher’s journey to significant astronomical sites was part of her artistic investigation into the world above the stratosphere, and the communities on ground—amateur and expert—that study it. Using varied techniques, artists in Southeast Asia are exploring lifeworlds that lie beyond the naked eye, and simultaneously, engaging with popular ideas of evolution, ecology, and difference.

The early concomitance of art with new technologies in shaping the visual representation of the physical world has been well-documented, from the detailed illustrations of plant cells in Robert Hooke’s Micrographia (1665) to Edward Whymper’s engraving of a mountaineering feat in the Ascent of the Rothorn (1871). Art has served a descriptive function, constructing detailed pictorial representations of natural phenomenon that aspired to depict the ‘real’ with utmost accuracy, a narrative function, enforcing the foundations of modernity, science, and progress, and an evidentiary function, reinforcing the factuality of science.

Artists have also turned a critical gaze to this function of recording—questioning the objectivity ascribed to visual representations. Artists practicing in Southeast Asia have used various mediums to explore these developments, and interpret the natural world. Rejecting a dominantly visual apperception, artists are building poly-sensuous experiences that seek to capture the many ways we feel, think, inhabit and relate to the physical world. Performance and new media installation are bringing forth the political and social processes which shape collective beliefs about technological development. Their practices build new material conventions—drawing from elements and phenomenon such as wind, rain, fossil, and fire—and explore processes of birth and decay hidden in deep, geological time, unraveling the structures and forms which shape the physical and the digital world. The rise of robotic and algorithmic art incorporating artificial intelligence, posits the vision of a post-human horizon, where the organic and the machinic morph and mutate into cyborgic/algorithmic art.

For the upcoming issue of Write Art Connect: Ex Natura, we invite submissions that probe what resides in the interstices of art, technology, and science. We understand technology to imply both pre-analogous and digital, to emergent modes, and welcome writings on various lines of enquiry drawing from disciplines across performance, visual, culinary, video, and film arts. Please submit brief outlines not exceeding 200 words to [email protected] latest by 31 May 2019.

Image Details Rohini Devasher
Genetic Drift – SYMBIONT II Cavum Oris Plantae (Mouth Plant) (detail)
Colour pencil, pan pastel, acrylic paint, charcoal, dry pastel, print on vinyl, on wall, 33.5 x 12.8 feet, 2018
Image credit Anil Rane, courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai