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Gallery Espace presents the January edition of Video Wednesdays II, screening of the Chinese and Indian video art.
The artists in the exhibition deal through different modes with the subject of death and the possibility of regeneration. The nature of annihilation is differently encoded. As the material world becomes move dense, the nature of abjection, evacuation, annihilation, death flows into numerous and simultaneous streams. It may be appropriate to begin with Zhang Peili, credited with the first video art work in China. With 30 x 30, 1988, he uses a near stationary camera, an evacuated human presence noted only through the act of breaking and remaking a mirror. With this seminal work Peili sets the tone for what we latterly recognize as significant aspects of Chinese video art - a philosophic content, a mediated political view and an intense preoccupation with the universal human condition. The mirror as motif in the Indic traditions is particularly associated with clarity and within the Buddhist tradition within 'primordial unity'. A unity disturbed and psychologically fragmented through the metaphor of breaking and remaking permeates the work.
In Lu Yang, the notion of annihilation is more specific and rooted in 20th century scientific advancement. Using the motif of the lab specimen administered electric shocks in the petri dish, she creates a disturbing pathology of violence and torture. The claustrophobia of the dish and the catatonic gestures of torture fill the screen with horrific energy, threatening to engulf all space.
Lu Yang resonates uncannily with the Subba Ghosh. In Subba Ghosh's Everything is Beautiful, the only constant is man in extremis: a victim of torture, a pathological manifestation of our times. Blindfolded and disturbed by a buzzing bee, he becomes visual template and memory bank as images appear and succeed each other with a disorderly energy. The act of torture seems of permeate and infect every surface, every gesture, every time and frame.
In the four Indian artists on view the act of imbuing life and recognizing the potential for death traverses time, space, borders. Vishal Dar creates a short cryptic work that snatches images from the web; these intersect free floating text that recall mass technology and images of art or mediatic history. Images and stock texts appear and die away devoid of context.
In Archana Hande, the issues of death and a devolution of cultural identity is born by her city, Mumbai. Though a series of animated frames the progression from the colonial city with its generous mangroves and abundant life forms is constantly over written. Implicit in Hande is the pernicious rewriting of history and enforced cultural identity that defaces histories of migration. In the many stages of re-writing/re-construction lies the critique that in the last decade Bombay urf Mumbai has slipped from its preeminent cosmopolitan character to an uneasy provincialism.
Sonia Khurana who has performed many of the conflicts of her time proffers the poetic gesture, of a self-abnegation from all contact, an absolute retreat from when life becomes unbearable. Flower Carrier III shot in Barcelona has a particularly poignant moment when Khurana as the Flower Carrier stands uncertainly between two actors playing at revolutionary statues, not quite certain of where to go. Drawing from Milan Kundera's Immortality, the work offers the option of resistance through withdrawal, an disavowal of all contact, other than the contemplation of a single flower.
Lu Yang - Dictator-E, 2009 - Duration: 4.15 min, video
Subba Ghosh - Everything is Beautiful (Working Title) - Duration: 5.45 min, single channel video
Sonia Khurana - Flower Carrier III, 2006 - Duration: 9 min, single channel video with sound, looped
Vishal K Dar - Fire Walk with Me, 2011 - Duration: 1:45 min, digital animation
Zhang Peili - 30 x 30, 1988 - Duration: 31.54 min, single channel video
Archana Hande - White Wash, 2011 - Duration: 4.5min approx