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Linkages dissolved at the edges

The latest solo show of Vasudha Thozhur at the Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai has many novelties as it unveils the mind of the artist through various modes of communication. Subhalakshmi Shukla deconstructs the autobiographical self of the artist and explains how the artist engages the society with/in her own dialogic process of art creation.

Vasudha Thozhur’s ongoing exhibition characterizes her autobiographical journey. A journey through the passages of geographies within real time as becoming a needed experience of what is rather internal to the extent of becoming intravenous and/or subterraneous. Her autobiographical journals which document these experiences are a process that gets manifested in her imagery where the internal extends beyond, into the realm of common concerns. The catalogue texts written by her are in two sections ‘Secret Life’-paintings from 2001-2007 and ‘Untouchable’- paintings from 2001-2007.

A journey is a common experience in an individual’s life, but that which is with a reading internalized, and every bit of that reading becoming a part of one’s life, is an art work genuinely required, in the present. Thus, Vasudha’s journey carries a potential to create a desire for expressing everything that takes the meaning of sacred/ secret empowerment, letting all that dissolve and deter, and configure again, at different points within the transforming passage of time.

“Distances, absences and speed were things which had to be confronted all the time and it seemed to me that they need not always create more distances and more speed, but could be subverted towards closeness and greater intensities.”- Vasudha in her catalogue text

The participatory aspect of this exhibition happens to be one such moment. You could be within a of glass- wall cut around your ‘self’-ego or the one with absolutely selfless presence, in her exhibition, when you become a protagonist (or the one who surrenders), you start participating in her journey. Record your own voice (comment, poetry, song, suggestion, reaction). Within the gallery there are listening points where you could hear her through head phones, the thoughtfully created recorded CDs of autobiographical journals ‘Secret Life : An auto biography in fragments’ in her own voice. She creates link between the ‘I’ and ‘You’, the entities that set momentum of life with. To participate you have to be genuine and try to dissolve the edges. “Not quite secret , but as something between two people”- Vasudha in her catalogue text

For Vasudha, comprehending knowledge through self-experience is essential. Hence any form of knowledge she acquires creates long lasting process of questioning the one already existing within, dismantling and re assembling, creating an amorphous volcanic movement within mind- body, difficult to get resolved within an imagery,  as ‘immediate’ or  if there is a given ‘real time’ for one.  

If she reads a poetry it becomes potent in forms, colours, and light around her. The form and/or color itself become potent with light as illumined body of the ‘word’-color. She internalizes philosophically. Her imagery manifest the metamorphosing connections between internalized truncated paths of, no homogeneity at times, fused with what is supposed to be vitality of the ‘popular’as a bridge for communication. Signified through non/-readable graffiti (text written and smudged /alphabets/symbols) her process of moving back and forth in time, reclaiming ‘time’ newly again, is a search that suggests a space between a spoken word and a silence.

The process she explains, is working with a ‘structure’, a physical and a formal structure for painting where it becomes ‘a fragment from the body of life’ rather than a ‘confinement within a frame’. A process which requires deep self-dialogue, creating a sanctity around it, a state of purity or complete oneness with oneself, when at that moment ‘heart’ is allowed to make a decision!
She creates ‘Sanctum’; the last panel of the present work was first made in 1979 as a student, a resonance of the Rothko room in Tate London. The first panel references the photograph of an installation she had made in 1998, during a workshop conducted with the School of Architecture in Ahmedabad. The middle one is a reference from her photograph taken by Gottfried Junker in 2005. Here, she emanates a solicit attention to blood, as sacred and internal, a vital force to her experiencing of every reality around, that fuses with the strong visual impression of the spitted pan and gold, her name written with the sign language as used by the speech/ hearing impaired, as silhouettes of her own hands, as well as the reds and maroons as illumined in the Rothko room.

One meets her internal journey within time, when she experiences a structural change and mentions a critique of scientific and empirical theoretical methods that propagated rationality and positivism- the WTC blast in 2001, and the Gujarat riots in 2002. In her imagery she resolves the subversion that creates a kind of pleasure in violence, a pleasure to the level of erotic fantasy (autobiographical journal written in 1998 and the painting created in 2006 ). She felt the need to connect to the cities and people which were under the most dreadful riots in 2002, when she takes a conscious decision for collaboration with activist Beena. (The ongoing ‘Himmat’ workshop (painting -2006), which was initiated with the IFA grant in 2002)        

The process is not been broken, yet the isolation is. Interaction with people of different cultural, social and knowledge levels came as a process too.   An involvement with the ‘external’ world- a city she never connected to, questions how to understand it through the violence so unreal ? Issues that demand the cause to be addressed… “The wounds would surface themselves if they are real, why create them if they aren’t?”- Vasudha.(CD4)

Her collaboration at the ‘Himmat workshops’ get extended in the present participatory aspect of the exhibition where a dialogic process would get amplified by the observer’s participation. The participatory notes would be made into book, she mentioned.   

Vasudha’s journey which has been so far a self-dialogic process, suggest a   normative methodological frame work where she makes a critique of the parallel existing empirical-scientific mode within the theories of social sciences. Her questions empower the understanding of ‘value’ as an ethical need at an individualistic level, which now form linkages that connect her inner world with the one that exists as outside, presenting dialogic method as a significant stance.  

 (The highlighted text is the artist’s vocabulary in her recorded CDs) 



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