SPACE AIR EARTH WATER WOOD METAL FIRE
10 December 2020 – 10 January 2021
Digital group exhibition with works by Kavya Oza, Rajat Gajjar, Dayananda Nagaraju and Anubhav Syal as well as documentary video works by students at the Zurich University of the Arts ZHdK, Trends & Identity
Curated by Eveline Wüthrich
Space, air, earth, water, wood, metal, and fire are considered elementary elements. They describe a very specific moment of nature, to which different energies are attributed depending on the culture. The original research was looking for immersive moments of art that inscribe themselves into nature through their qualities in many languages. In the meantime, nature has produced and sent back to us a mutant that has thrown all thinking with and through art, if not forever, then at least temporarily, overboard. The pandemic shifts the exhibition from physical to digital space. To the categories of art and nature, the technical has been added, as if the digital itself were an elementary element.
How is the natural visualized within the exhibition space was the previous question. This was replaced by inquiring how the natural is revealed in a technical space. The social aspect of the physical encounter is renewed by the interaction with the screen, the movement in space becomes virtual. The right thing, it seems, is not to cling to the planned protagonists, but to take the changed circumstances and rethink them dually through art and nature.
Some of the exhibited works are existing pieces that have been translated to a digital form. Others are new works created specially for the exhibition. This includes an animated sculptural model by Rajat Gajjar, which can be discovered from all sides. The fragmented study of a building in Mumbai was transferred to a 3D printed structure in the materiality of wood. Despite its openness and permeability, it is rendered complete in the eyes and minds of viewers visiting a building that combines colonial and contemporary formations. Anubhav Syal participates to the show with a new audio piece. The artist grew up in Jaipur off Sodala Street, whose name is shrouded in various myths. Legend has it that the crossroads was named after a tree with 100 branches ("So" = hundred and "Dala" = branches). In search of the essence of Sodala, the artist finds a collection of streets built on pillars and columns as an overpass. The tree no longer exists – if it ever existed at all – but has been replaced by roads in several directions like hundreds of branches.
In her video work, Kavya Oza shows how the city and the bird encounter each other quietly and with minimal movement. Dayananda Nagaraju works both as an artist and as a farmer, which characterizes his work. He poetically captures his immediate surroundings in his watercolor paintings and objects. A film documentation by students of the Trends & Identity course at the Zurich University of the Arts ZHdK follows their final presentations though the woods. As a reaction to the pandemic the students left their classrooms and went to the woods to capture and work on different aspects of wood. A digital booklet published with Zurich based publishing project Innen will accompany the exhibition. It shows to the visitor a photo essay and personal insight into the curators research trip to India.
The technical, that stands for pure rationality becomes the site of an emotional experience. An experience that is less concerned with analog and digital, but rather seeks the magic in the technical.
This Curatorial Lab and exhibition has been supported by Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia
Dayananda Nagaraju is the son of a farming family from south India in the state of Karnataka. He grew up observing the realities of farming and the rapid changes that have been imposed on it by contemporary life. Central to his artistic practice are large complex drawings representing the interwoven complexity of nature. They take inspiration from common tree knots, rice, rice paddies, everyday farm objects and belief systems related to farming culture. Dayananda Nagaraju is based in Mysore, India.
Kavya Oza's practice explores the idea of duality of human beings, self temperament and feminine nuances layered with her personal judgments and ways of looking. Her interest in unexpected projection of natural or artificial light and shadow in the mundane makes her relook at spaces, objects and living beings in new ways every time they encounter a shifting light. On the other side, complexion of indirect feminine figuration through shadows, impression of textures and textiles address self-trauma, duality and question the female nature. Kavya Oza is based in Baroda, India.
Rajat Gajjar's work explores the consumption of historic objects (decor in general) through time and how they're materially replaced to fit a need of an existing design trend. His practice as an artist as well as a curatorial researcher is medium and material-oriented. His fascination with digital processes in sculpture, have moved his work in the direction of 3-D printing. Thanks to his interest in material, design and digital fabrication Rajat Gajjar also works as an Industrial designer. He is the co-founder of the experimental design and media anti-lab Compound 13 Lab in Dharavi, Mumbai. Rajat Gajjar is based in Baroda, India.
Anubhav Syal is a conceptual artist from Jaipur, India. His works are inspired by concepts such as probability and identity. He has worked as a film maker and photographer since 2008, slipping into the realm of conceptual art. Anubhav Syal creates to capture time and to feed the theories of his mind. His relationship with art is a reason to be ridiculous. He likes to explore the idea of time, decay and memory, these explorations are to answer the riddles of his own mind. Anubhav Syal runs the exhibition platform Round Them Oranges in Jaipur and is co-founder of the art book fair Art Book Depot.
Zurich University of the Arts ZHdK, Trends & Identity
The Bachelor of Arts specialization in Trends & Identity focuses on phenomena of everyday culture, such as work and leisure, food and fashion, and pop and politics. Students learn to analyze social trends critically and design concepts, products, staged presentations and campaigns accordingly. Within this process, style is a defining factor for the identity of individuals, groups and “scenes”, with social and communicative as well as aesthetic functions. How can we examine the past and present as the basis for formulating rigorous scenarios for the future? Students engage with trend and future research and with the fundamentals of ethnography, sociology and cultural studies, and learn to communicate their research and findings in appropriate formats. What kind of product can ask questions, solve a problem or provide pleasure? Students learn the basics of design and technologies, including photography and print, working with wood, metal and fabrics; they design and realize products such as accessories, crockery and jewellery. How can social and aesthetic issues be presented in the form of attractive, entertaining and informative images, environments and events? Students learn to recombine things and their uses, in order to create original ways of looking at the world and new constellations of meaning.
Eveline Wüthrich is a curator based in Basel, Switzerland. She is co-founder and curator of I Never Read, Art Book Fair Basel, a platform dedicated to explore the relationship between text, performance, art production and the book. She has realized shows and presentations at Despacio in San José Costa Rica, MOCA Contemporary in Los Angeles and Museo Jumex in Mexico City, as well as in the Botanical Gardens of Palermo in Italy. Eveline Wüthrich loves to combine knowledge and traditions that at first sight do not fit together. When curating art exhibitions, she always uses and includes her knowledge as a Feng Shui consultant. In Basel she runs a painting room for children.