New Delhi artist Sonam Chaturvedi shares the inspiration, process, and meanings of her artistic practice. We are happy to publish it here, courtesy of the Utsha Foundation Blog. Sonam's work 'Time, Thoughts .... Incoherent' has been part of the Building Bridges three-city exhibition, and it is still in view at the Gallery Sumukha in Bangalore.
Lost and Found Objects: Between Art and Monotony
isn't it good sometimes
to be stuck in traffic
i have an orange
in my bag
it travels with me
and back home
i always forget
to eat it
in a corner
of my bag
i like it
listen to the impatient
people with music
in their ears
and games in their hands
sitting in it's dark
At last I had to throw the orange, it started decaying. But I bought more to carry in my bag, as there was something missing, the bag weighed lighter and I didn’t like the emptiness.
This article is primarily about my practice, and touches on some personal thoughts and everyday experiences which stimulate my works, including the work I did in the residency at Utsha. The above images are of an impromptu installation at a group show at NIV art gallery, New Delhi. I had used the above poem for this work, which is an echo of my daily struggles and journeys. I installed it around a pillar as a never-ending stream of thoughts portraying the journey connoted in the poem; there is also a performative act at play while viewing the work.
I was once confronted with the question: what do you do in life apart from art making? I didn’t understand the question then, and even now I don’t, because everything I look at, I do, I’m constantly thinking in terms of expressing myself through art. When I was in Mumbai for a residency, every evening I would walk two miles from my studio to bandstand, aimlessly wandering, just to touch the ocean and catch a glimpse of the drowning sun. I would always return with my pockets filled with random objects thrown by the waves for me. At the end of the residency I had an accumulation of sea shells, broken terracotta, marble icons of gods and stones studded with sea animals which gave off a rotten smell and lingered for a very long time in my pocket. I was unsure at that time what I would do with this small museum, but during the transition from Mumbai to Bhubaneswar my ideas also travelled, and I brought this carton of objects with me to Utsha. It took sometime to unpack the ideas, but eventually the memories attached to these objects slowly consumed the whole premises of Utsha.
The work is titled Lost and Found Memories; it is a mixed media installation consisting of 10 parts/objects,
scattered over in Utsha. The objects I collected are a marker of a journey and/or an experience, like
diary entries which remind us of a certain event in the past and how much we’ve changed through time.
The objects were collected from the coastal line of Mumbai and left in Bhubaneswar and in the sea at
Chandrabhaga beach in Konark.
The display was done to create an experience of finding the works or chancing upon them, just the way I had found these objects.
There is a memory attached to each object which makes it valuable and personal to me. This work is about leaving these objects back in nature but at a different place, and in exchange gathering something to mark its departure, which includes another object, sound, thought, impression, photo, video, et al.
Lost and Found Memories is a series of exchanges which do not cease with time, since it is intrinsic to me and my obsession with collecting. The work is progressing with new objects collected and left, to collect further.
Sonam Chaturvedi (1991) is a visual artist living and working in Delhi. She has participated in various group shows and residencies within India, including residencies at What About Art?, Mumbai; the Utsha Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Bhubaneswar; and group shows including a show curated by Meera Menezes at Bikaner House, Delhi. She has been an active participant in the Building Bridges project and in the three exhibitions, Kolkata, Delhi and Bangalore, that have marked the conclusion of the project.