Earlier this year, when New York-based Pieter Schoolwerth used his old vacuum cleaner, he noticed it wasn’t picking up any dirt. The annoyed digital artist blurted out, “My vacuum sucks.” That very moment, he paused to reconsider the statement: “If it didn’t suck, it wouldn’t be a vacuum. Performing this function is what gives it identity. And if it did suck, it would still be a vacuum. There was only one way it can be,” says Schoolwerth. As he makes his India debut at Galleryske in Delhi with a solo project titled “My Vacuum Sucks,” Bangalore-based Avinash Veeraraghavan joins him with a body of work that is also inspired by autobiographical elements.
Roused by author Anaïs Nin’s words, Veeraraghavan’s show is titled “We do not see things the way they are, we see things the way we are”. Staying true to the artist’s style of layering with motifs are Veeraraghavan’s charts of the psyche. Called Ithri Folami, Elorio, and N.E Dara, these fictional maps show places the artist’s mind has visited, the people he has encountered, and the images that have stayed with him. A seaweed, an eye, a man in a yellow shirt, a kangaroo and a battleship join the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus in a repetitive pattern that grows more elaborate as you move from one “map” to another. Often drawn from popular culture and reworked, Veeraraghavan’s layered prints are coming to the Capital after nearly six years.
While Veeraraghavan’s work deals with notions of perception, Schoolwerth takes a look at the vacuum from a philosophical context. “Not only is a vacuum a common everyday object,
but, as a word, it also refers to an idea of a space that has essentially been taken out. Space, in general, is becoming more and more difficult to find — private space, general space or personal space — as it’s being taken over by rules and laws,” he says.
The vacuum cleaner doubles as the protagonist in Schoolwerth’s series of digital paintings, and in a 21-minute audio-visual work made in collaboration with Alexandra Lerman, a Russia-born artist based in New York. Titled the same as the show, this AV is the centerpiece of Schoolwerth’s work and tells us about a man who got sucked by the vacuum, and the space he once occupied is a character in itself.
The works are on display at Galleryske, Shivam House, 14-F Middle Circle, Connaught Place, till December 7. Closed on Tuesdays.