This is an exhibition that makes you uncomfortable, questions your perception of the times you inhabit and forces you to think about your role in society and the environment. Multi-disciplinary artist Manjot Kaur spent close to three years working on “Paradoxically Absurd”, an exhibition that addresses socio-political issues through art and discusses the connection between the two fields. Organised by the Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi, the exhibition depicts the dichotomies of life.
The artist has worked with a wide range of media, including books, installation, video (2D animation and time-lapse), sound and interactive performances to inquire about the socio-political and anthropological concerns. “The basis of my art practice is to respond to things around me, issues that are relevant to me and in the process, attempt to understand the ever-evolving nature of life and how nature and humans adapt to changing and sometimes hostile environment,” says Kaur, who uses science, drawings, literature, digital images, objects and statistics to initiate a dialogue on social, cultural and personal issues.
In the work Absent Presence she uses a total of 108 slides and a microscope, to investigate the notion of identity and existence. Samples of the presented microscopic slides feature details of plants, flowers, insects and the human body. “The work generates an experience of wonder, which indirectly makes the spectator more conscious of every action,” says Kaur, who did her MFA in painting from Government College of Art, Chandigarh, and has participated in several national and international residencies.
The installation Constant Motion looks at chemical reactions. It features a single-channel video projection and live interface of a website to address the paradox — the crisis of population growth and the scarcity of resources in India. The chemical reaction becomes a metaphor, where precious silver is perceived as human beings and poisonous copper nitrate as the environment in which human beings are living.
The work P for Pink, P for Pesticide, P for Poison focuses on the social, political, ethical and environmental implications of the green revolution. The project is an interface between art, science and technology, and explores how nature and humans adapt to changing and sometimes hostile environment. The work Sustaining Collapse refers to the black smog that dominates north India due to stubble burning of farmlands. The work uses the format of a graphic book, with stories of the delicate environmental system threatened by uncontrolled exploitation. Global warming, environmental degradation and globalisation are the other issues that the artist addresses through her work. Potato Glut is an installation that reflects on the situation when farmers — out of sheer compulsion of having no other option to store or sell their potato production — dump the produce on the streets every year. Due to low prices in the wholesale market and no buyers for their produce, potato growers do not return to cold storage warehouses to reclaim their products, which then rot. “These are stories of our times that I attempt to share,” says Kaur.
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