Artist Anindita Dutta’s world is one of ‘living sculptures’ forged in clay
Two clay figures — of a man and a woman arm wrestling on a table — look lifelike in the photographs at gallery Latitude 28. Every strand of hair on their heads, the tense muscles on the man’s upper arm, and the folds of the girl’s dress — are a part of a massive clay sculpture. Shown through photographs, it is a futile battle of the genders, where no one wins. Next to the photographs is a video, a behind-the-scenes record of the series, which shows sculptor Anindita Dutta painstakingly setting up the scene, and then proceeding to cover two volunteers — the arm wrestling protagonists, two students of fine arts — in clay. A project done for Japan’s Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in 2010, it took Dutta straight eight hours without any breaks, and close to eight tons of clay, to set up this performance art-cum-clay installation called Wrest in Peace.
On display at the gallery, where the walls, in sync with Dutta’s matter of choice, are covered in clay, Dutta’s solo show is called “Everything Ends & Everything Matters”. The Indiana-based artist elaborates, “Clay for me symbolises life and death. When you are going through certain emotions, or when you are in some problem, it assumes a place of utmost importance in your life. But is it actually that important? Eventually you will resolve the issue and move forward in life, so nothing actually matters. I’ve dealt with many topics over the years revolving around loss and life, but this is something that always permeates through in my work.”
Mobile clay sculptures, and performance art that is grounded in composition and extensive detail is 42-year-old Dutta’s way of catharsis. The challenge, she shares, is to work with others’ bodies. “In the past, I used to construct scenarios with me in them. But over time I realised that I had more control if I was directing the camera. Using others’ body is a tough task; it’s hard for people to let others touch them, especially a stranger, and then cover them in clay. I find very few people who are willing to go through with it. I ask them to walk on the clay; they often slip and fall too, but they get acquainted with the material and end up having an amazing experience,” says Dutta.
In Matter of Moment, she records the mundane rituals of eating, sleeping and defecating in “a world devoid of emotions”. In Limitation II, Dutta shows how our limitations are of our own making, as she moves around with her head trapped in a fruit crate. It’s all about transferring her energy to clay, believes Dutta, as she continues to work on ideas of mortality and conflict.
The show is at Latitude 28, F 208, Lado Sarai, till June 1. Contact 46791111