A close-up photograph showing artist Deepjyoti Kalita’s chest and back etched with the words “change me” and “be like me”, sends a chill down our spine as we enter the Latitude 28 gallery in Lado Sarai. The image gives the impression of self-inflicted torture by the artist.
Perhaps when Kalita thought of depicting a feeling of obsessive or insane love that resonates in the French title of his exhibition, “Amour Fou”, he thought it was best to give viewers a sample of the show right at the entrance to the gallery.
As he speaks at length about his work Change Me/ Be Like Me, the 30-year-old Baroda-based artist says, “It is almost a history of violently expressing our love to anybody. Hanuman cut open his chest to depict his love for Ram and Sita. In Bollywood, the hero is seen etching the name of his girlfriend on his hand. One is using the violent ways of expressing love and that reflects how people gain pleasure by torture. It is a painful process, but gives immense pleasure to the beloved.”
Originally from Assam, Kalita confronts the viewer with the reality of human relationships and the way everyone interacts, through his nine works. “I associate myself with the village side, river and hills of Assam. But when I went to Baroda for my bachelors and masters from the Faculty of Fine Arts, I witnessed the cultural change happening at that time and it came as a shock. The values, ideology and behaviour was different,” he says.
Kalita’s work Aphasia, whose literal meaning is a ‘disorder caused by damage to parts of the brain that control language, making it hard to comprehend, read or write,’ comprises a series of photographs taken from his family’s and friends’ photo albums. Appearing half-submerged in square-shaped glass containers, half-filled with transparent liquid, the upper part of the photograph appears blurred while the lower half is clearly visible.
Pointing out that this depicts the water level mark left behind by the floods in Assam on the walls of schools, homes and colleges, he says, “It represents the error in archiving. When I used to go to my parents’ place and browse through their albums, they could not identity many people in them. We are deleting memories while photographing. I have put the water to depict how civilisation comes out of water and merges in it. Great civilisations like the Harappan civilisation were lost in water.”
A sofa, television and a table cut into half become the heroes of the installation Beneath His Room Lies A Cell, where Kalita addresses ego. “Modern day relationships show how one can survive with the help of technology after the end of a relationship. It contradicts Indian philosophy of prakriti and purush on the interdependence on one another.”
The exhibition is on display at Latitude 28, F-208 Lado Sarai, till October 5. Contact: 46791111