In early 2020, just before the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic, Gallery Threshold in Delhi hosted a deeply reflective show. Titled Kintsugi/Bakhiya, it looked at how fissures or scars became testaments to difficult journeys, with marks of the wear and tear adding value to an object. The works became metaphors for embracing flaws and imperfections.
There was one by Gargi Raina that delved into a moment in history when Russia began to ship glass mirrors to Iran. When the crates arrived, it was discovered that the mirrors had turned to shards. The karigars then used these fragments to create intricate geometric patterns. Raina used this story to reflect on ways in which the “broken” created a new lens of viewing oneself, “It is from the broken that the whole is made,” was the thought behind it. In a way, it felt like the exhibition was preparing us for the time to come, on ways to stay strong through events and moments that might threaten to break us.
And now, a new show at the gallery, Bind/Bound, takes these threads of thought forward. After examining the fragility of human existence, the exhibition now looks at ideas of acceptance. “The show spills over from Bakhiya. When one goes through turbulent times, you keep patching up cracked wounds. But it takes a while to accept that you can repair only so much and that ultimately things will fall away,” says Chauhan. “Letting go is the hardest. We try to hang on, hold on and get bound in the process.”
The group show features works by seven artists: Achia Anzi, Gargi Raina, Ruby Christi, Sumakshi Singh, Rubaba Haider, Shanthi Swaroopini and Hannah Zallis-Anzi. “In the process of acceptance, you realise that the only thing binding you is your ideas and thoughts,” she adds. Most works have been done specifically for the show.
There is Achia Anzi's ‘Untitled’, which utilises the visual and audio signs of morse code to comment on language, love and communication. "It is an attempt to overcome the inherent ambiguity of language that, on the one hand, facilitates any kind of expression, but on the other hand, is destined to disappoint the speaker’s intention. In a sense, language can be a language only when it does not realise itself, when it lurks in the ‘interiority’ of the speaker and does not communicate itself,” mentions the curatorial note.
Then there are Shanthi Swaroopini’s drawings, which were made during the pandemic. The artist, who stays by herself, had to move to her sister’s house on contracting covid-19. There, bound to a space, she had access only to paper. The delicate drawings on display in the show reflect on that moment. There is also an earlier work in the show, when she had taken a body mould of herself and bound copper wires around it. These were symbolic of the knots and entanglements within us, which weigh us down.
Sumakshi Singh has delved into her archive of memories to create beautiful thread-based drawings. She looked at the stories imbued in the architecture of her family home. “She went back when her grandfather expired, and realised that it is memories that tie you to a place. The show is highly conceptual and very sublime. Thought is a very intangible, ephemeral and delicate thing. And I wanted that quality to be reflected in the exhibition,” says Chauhan.
Bind/Bound will be on display at Gallery Threshold, New Delhi, till 15 December, 2021