A gate with one side depicting the Indian boundary and the other depicting the Pakistani boundary looks eerily similar to the Wagah Border. Called Light leaks, winds meet, where the waters spill deceit, it was a part of Reena Saini’ Kallat’s Anatomy of Forking Paths. “It is the result of several visits to the border and the stories about partition that I grew up listening to. It depicts how someone’s entry is being denied. The fly zapper shows the friction between the countries,” says Mumbai-based Saini.
The gates are covered with red thread, with ends that are left loose — the reason she used the sacred thread was to showcase both religions – Hinduism and Islam – as the sacred thread is a part of both.
While the gate was one highlight of the art show, the other was the extensive use of rubber stamps, signifying bureaucracy. There are portraits of migrants made using rubber stamps that have the names of people who have gone missing in the past, all from official police records. Others have the names of those who have been denied visas, because of their religion, colour or caste, “The stamps have names in 14 languages and the silhouette that the portraits create on the wall shows their anonymity,” says the artist. Denial of access is a recurrent theme though, “I usually like working with the space I have. So I’ve put rubber stamps like a barricade in front of a piano – in this case, music is being denied,” says Reena.
The most eye-catching piece, however, is the one titled Measurement from Evaporating Oceans. There’s a huge hand coming through the wall, holding a compass on letters and numbers drawn on the ground using salt. “Usually the instrument is used to measure physical distance. But in this case, it is trying to measure something psychological,” she adds.
The artist had also put up a video that showed people reading letters at an ophthalmologist’s clinic. The letters, she said were taken from the preamble and the video showed the fragmented recital of the preamble.
At Art Houz, Alwarpet, till February 23.