Location: Imperial Marble Querry, Talvada, Rajasthan.
Sandarbh Residency, Rajasthan, India
The Residency at Partapur was sponsored by Sandharbh for 2012 Inlaks recipients. The Non-profitable nature of the organization and the aim to educate and developing self-sustaining economy in rural areas through art and craft. The diversity of work and engagement introduced by the organization is commendable. Partapur is the place from where it all started, and till recently every year Sandharbh organizes national and international workshops.
The work at the marble mines near Talvada started with the fascination of the space. Most notable thing at the site is the play of light in the huge marble well. The surface white and the illusory space and scale is another aspect of the space, which generated my interest to work more on it.
In my visit to different places in the village and the surround areas I observed the difference in ritual and customs in the place. The people in and around Partapur have the interesting Practice of decorating divine forms with colourful silver foils. Adopting the same technique of decoration I tried engaging the people in a creative dialogue of analysis the work and its value. The whole idea was to engage the locals with the process of making a work and interpreting it.
It began with choosing a large bolder of marble from a lot of rejected stones and stated covering it with silver foil. The surface identity of the marble was completely camouflaged within a week; slowly with piece by piece under the foil. The play of light on the surface of the silver foil gave the effect of alienated object in a white back ground. But with the movement of the sun in the sky the work responded with the surrounding environ. During the process it so happened that some of the curious mines laborers surrounded the work. Some enquired, what is it that I was doing there; but most started interpreting the significance of the work, which I was doing there. These dialogues opened a new dimension in the understanding of the place and the significance of the work. The people came up with stories about the mines and the interesting findings from it. One such story told about a statue of balaji (form of vishnu) found during the mining process. It has nothing to take with an actual image but these are probably the fictitious shared memories of the community working form decades. Another story recounts letters in urdu inscribe on the stone meaning Allah. These things got sold in an auction as these people said with variable values, which made clear dubious nature and actuality of the story. But the interesting thing that captured my mind was the belief of the people on the sacredness of the place and the material they are quarrying.
Marble is a material used for many centuries for art making. Due to its material quality and surface value many sculptors in history use it. In addition to the materiality of the medium it also carries several subtle layers of value. One such value can be attested to the belief and spirituality of the medium, which served as a medium of ritual idols. Any material has a fundamental role in the execution, presentation and reception of art. The absence/presence of material may rises various question, which are integral to the existence of art. The presence of the material in the art has acute primacy because without it we cannot comprehend the presence of art. This is not to say that other forms of art apart from visual art, like performance, drama etc doesn’t have any existence on their own, but some how they too need the help of material and medium in order to be mediated and understood by the viewers. The material acts as an encasement of ideas and information, which is transmitted by it and reaches the receiving end of the viewer.
Hiding /replacing the surface character of the medium opens it for new interpretations. The process of using the rejected marble bolder changes it uselessness to some kind of ritual adding value. The people narrate the use of ritual in their life and how my work parallels with there understating of the divine. The work shows the transformation of the mundane to something, which is spiritual to the worker in the mines
Medium: Site-specifixc intervention, Variable size.