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Portfolio: Ravi Agarwal

Else, all will be still

(2013 – 15)

 

Photograph © Ravi Agarwal

 

Photograph © Ravi Agarwal

 

Photograph © Ravi Agarwal

 

Photograph © Ravi Agarwal

 

Photograph © Ravi Agarwal

 

Photograph © Ravi Agarwal

 

Photograph © Ravi Agarwal

 

Photograph © Ravi Agarwal

 

Photograph © Ravi Agarwal

 

Photograph © Ravi Agarwal

 

Photograph © Ravi Agarwal

 

 

Artist's Statement

Two years back, I had a close encounter with the sea - a first for an inland urban person. It continues. The 'ground' changing experiences, led me to further my ongoing explorations about the man-nature relationship and the question, "What is nature?"

The pursuit revealed new ways of imagining. I was led to ancient Tamil Sangam akam love poetry, where five landscapes - Kurinji (mountains), Mullai (forests), Marutam (agricultural lands), Neithal (sea), Palai (desert) - became an internal terrain of feelings - sexual union, yearning, sulking, pining, and separation - through its short, direct verse. The outside became inside as object and subject co-formed each other.

Today the planet is in an ecological crisis. Nature has been reduced to an object that can only be 'acted' upon through its being 'extracted,' 'admired, 'enjoyed' etc, but not 'lived' with. The relationship is one of power. Capitalism, technology, mass production, resource exploitation, all have prospered through this positioning. Wilderness has been privatized, forests fenced, rivers tamed, and animals made extinct. There seems no going back from consumption and progress. It is the age of the power of man, the Anthropocene. No one can guarantee future survival.

The entrenched oppositional binary needs to be questioned and other positions with nature recovered. Deluze's idea of positive difference, Guattari's thesis on three ecologies, Tim Morton's rejection of 'nature' itself, or the Buddhist proposition of a non-dual self, offer clues as to where one can look. Nature defined merely by science needs to be read alongside ideas of mortality, fragility, vulnerability, balance, equity, and democracy.

The works are an outcome of my struggle to comprehend the times we inhabit. Fishermen friends helped me navigate new waters. The ever-changing sea led me to these explorations. Urgency is in the air. Else, all will be still.

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At the time of our 1:1 Interview with Ravi, he was asked these questions about Else, all will be still.

PSA: In your project Else, all will be still, you have used a variety of formats and media - landscapes, still life, portraiture, video, and sculpture. How do you make these varied, multiple choices?

RA: I think any such artistic choices are made through familiarity with materials and forms. These develop and evolve over time. As the canvas changes and expands, filling it becomes rather intuitive. Ultimately, it is about the intensity of how something speaks to me. The form itself finds its way in. Besides, I get bored easily of my past work and want to challenge myself, to push myself – this is what is most interesting and exciting for me.

PSA: Again, in reference to your project Else, all will be still, the photograph that you make seems to work as the raw material, as the beginnings of what you want to say essentially. Do you agree?

RA: The photograph is a document and note, of sorts, for me. The work develops over time, but in what may seem contradictory, it can happen in a flash. That moment takes time, the work has to sit in me – in the back of my mind - before it finds its expression. That is like a eureka moment! Very exciting.

Date Published

20 November

Category
Portfolios