Team Art Fervour was recently at Experimenter’s 10th-anniversary celebration and we had the pleasure of speaking to Prateek Raja, co-founder of Experimenter, who walked us through the exhibition, ‘Searching for the Stars Amongst the Crescents’.
‘As it had been for sailors searching for land, birds now became my guides as I looked for the beginnings of water leading me through the blues of the wetness of the land’.
A handwritten poster informs Sohrab Hura’s collection of photos ‘Levee’ on display in Gallery 5 of Experimenter space at Ballygunge Place.
This theme of quest continues across the exhibition ‘Searching for Stars Amongst The Crescents’, which headlines Experimenter’s 10th anniversary celebrations. The gallery brings together twelve distinct voices to investigate popular theories of future, collectivity and insanity to mark its decade-long commitment to bold and provocative artists. Walking us through the gallery, co-founder Prateek Raja suggests the exhibition represents ‘a search for the existing dualities and multiplicities within our surroundings. At the same time it also talks about the things we take for granted and do not appreciate’.
Amongst the show’s lineup are celebrated artists Ayesha Sultana, Adip Dutta and Bani Abidi. Set in a dark room, Abidi’s eponymous work adds a sharp contrast to the white cube space. The moving images on display come alive with nuances of animation and light. The work enriches, rather than simplifies, the hermeneutics behind the exhibition’s title. ‘The pieces bring us back to looking at things that are in our face all the time and push us to understand the multilayered meanings they resemble. This is how we end up searching for stars amongst the crescents,’ Raja explains.
The exhibition employs a wide range of mediums from sculpture to drawing to photography. Though each work is singular, it is brought in dialogue with the others. The aim is to provide the audience with a toolkit for understanding the world around us in order to engage with questions about the future. Viewers must begin by surrendering to the uniquely personal, intricate and often, esoteric stories the collection interweaves.
One of the most striking pieces in the exhibition is Rathin Barman’s large brick painting. The work takes up an entire wall in a grid of square tiles. The painting’s use of gold lines that melt into its deep peach background gives it a mosaic texture. Set in the gallery’s soft light, the drawing produces the sense of a dream-vision. The piece must be first observed closely and then from a distance to withhold in its complete presence. Markedly, there is no single way of experiencing the show. Experimenter builds a visual narrative that invites viewers to spend time and think with each artwork on display.
‘The artists use their practice to make viewers think of ways of looking at things from different points of view,’ Raja says as he talks us through Hura’s photography. Hura’s work is ‘a poignant, sometimes even heartbreaking landscape of interior America. Landscape, not only in the traditional sense, but also the human landscape of unemployment, development of right-wing politics and hope. These expressions are juxtaposed with photographs taken by his father who traveled on the same course on a cargo ship’.
The exhibition is a mix of elements: wood and stone sculptures, black and white photography, typewritten poems, oil and gesso on canvas. Each voice expands the boundaries of what can and cannot be perceived as art, hence, emphasizing a continuous search for meaning.
‘The works in the gallery that are complex and layered in the way you view them, but simple in the way they are executed’.
Searching for Stars Amongst The Crescents is on view at Experimenter till 25 October 2019.