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Through Space and Time

Zuleikha Chaudhari had often found herself musing over the relationship between people and spaces.

Zuleikha Chaudhari had often found herself musing over the relationship between people and spaces. It was during one such reflection that she hit upon the idea of creating an exhibition titled ‘Propositions: On Text and Space II’,based on texts from German playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig’s Before/Afterwards. For the artist,the text of the play “creates a changing relationship between the private unconscious emotional life of human beings and physical landscapes”,and the purpose of her installation is to construct a landscape of these spaces that are suspended between the real and the imagined. “It responds to the text spatially and experientially,” says the Delhi-based artist. This

exhibition,which is in collaboration with the Max Mueller Bhavan,Mumbai,is on view at Colaba gallery,Project 88 till April 26.

This is not the first time that Chaudhari found herself inspired by Schimmelpfennig. She says,”I have worked on another text by him called Arabian Night. This was a performance piece which I opened in 2005. Arabian Night as well as

Before/Afterwards are textually descriptive narratives of actions and experience. They are like looking at paintings and photographs of people and places.” Considered,one of the best-known and most performed playwrights in Europe,Schimmelpfennig’s fragmented stories speak of a world that is constantly changing,and how this change is reflected by personal and internal histories. Before/Afterwards plays out like a montage in 51 parts,narrating a tale of everyday lives,interspersed with some extraordinary elements,of the 36 characters originally listed in the play.

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Having chosen eight sections from the play to work with,Chaudhari has used one as a visual,while the other seven provide the haunting audio. A Thin Man,the story of a man who rather matter-of-factly walks across a wall,the ceiling and then down the opposite wall,runs across the installations as written text. Explaining the significance of the manner in which this text is presented,the artist says,“The installation plays with the text as image. The written text constructs another plane in the space.”

A video that references two texts from the play — The Constantly Changing Woman and The Man In The Picture II — is also one of the attractions of the exhibition. Interestingly,the latter is a part of a trilogy,which form the key texts on the audio,called The Man In Front Of The Picture,The Man In The Picture I and The Man In The Picture II. These add the ‘extraordinary’ element in the play,speaking of a man who finds himself inside the picture of a pastoral landscape hung on a wall,and is unable to climb out of it.

The very concept of the unusual yet enchanting installations — with wooden frames fitted with tube-lights and walls of light — draws from this text,too. “They explore space as volume and as outline. The show starts with walls of light,moving on to tube-light frames and finally to plain wooden frames without any lights in them. These define space rather than fill it,and end with just a basic,structural outline,” says Chaudhari.

First published on: 28-03-2011 at 03:01:56 am
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