T. V. Santhosh at Kochi-Muziris Biennale  2016

  opening on the 12th Dec. 2016
till 29th March, 2016

History Lab
Wood, metal and LED timers
174 x 69 x 27

It is about a process of understanding the history from the point of view of progress, defined by industrial and technological advancement, and how these high points of advancement in turn become yardstick of measuring the extent of damage caused by man against its own kind and nature. History of war could be read as a parallel phenomenon, as how the weapons technology developed and how experiments were not just limited to confinement of laboratories alone, but multiple narratives of History selectively reorganised to support some propaganda in the name of truth. And in that process, the history itself becomes a laboratory of conflict. Imageries emblematic of ideologies, power centres and time change their meaning in the course of changing times. Like how a grand structure like the V. T. Station that once represented colonial power changed its meaning and became almost like the heart of the city and represented the aspirations of the people. Like this how these smoke and fire spitting chimneys that were once the symbol of progress have changed their meaning if seen through new ecological perspective. In a way this work is an attempt of understanding last two centuries, reading through the high points of
changes and events that eventually shaped our time.

The Protagonist and Folklores of justice
watercolour on paper
60 x 40 (each)

These works are part of my new watercolour series, extensions of my ongoing preoccupation with understanding history in relation to a process of enquiry into war and terror that shapes our perceptions of reality and ethics. Also, as a result of rediscovering my old days, when a few decades back I used to make posters and be actively part of several street theatre productions for an organization involved in activities of political resistance. It was one of the culturally intense phases in Kerala, in the mid 80's, I started disbelieving in 'pure aesthetical/creative practices' and tried to meddle with the much discussed idea of art as a possible tool for social reconstructions. Now, I try to revisit those old days in order to understand it from a much larger perspective of endless ideological debate on the conflict between personal, social and political interrelationships. I started this series incorporating linguistic systems of graffiti and political posters addressing a set of questions. I call it 'eternal questions', which one can keep asking at any point of time in history, yet, it would still be relevant. A question like "who is the real enemy? is both philosophical and ethical in nature. In the process, works went through drastic change. Many apparent elements became obscure and the obscure became direct. Elements of posters are replaced by the elements of performance and studio photography. And images of herbal garden became the backdrop by problematizing the aspects of political posters. Like in a one-act play, the protagonist interacts with objects that determine the progress of its narrative, I meddle with the images to both subvert and uncover the intent of the questions juxtaposed with. The text that used to be an integral part of the works vanished and is replaced with lucid metaphors that can be
understood by men in the street.

* * *

Both the sculpture and the paintings talk about history of war and violence. While the sculpture is more about history, the paintings are more about our present. While the painting incorporate elements of political posters, graffiti and performances, or medicinal plants as backdrop as a
reminder of solutions provided by nature to each issues created by man, sculpture has taken elements directly from history in a process to trace the errors committed by men against humanity.

T. V. Santhosh
Dec. 6, 2016




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