Farmer is a Wrestler

Thukral and Tagra. Installation, 2019. Courtesy of Lalit Kala Academy

Punjab Lalit Kala Academy in Chandigarh presents Farmer is a Wrestler, an exhibition by Delhi based artists Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra. The exhibition addresses the urgency of the agrarian crisis faced by farmers in India today. Over the years, generational divisions of land, climate change, vote-bank politics, a lack of implementation of the law and the general deficit of formal education in rural communities has severely affected the lives and livelihoods of Indian farmers.

Using the metaphor of sport and game, the exhibition draws parallels to act of kushti – a form of traditional Indian wrestling that is popular amongst rural communities. The wrestling bout depicts physical and mental struggle, endurance and resilience – which are all symbolic of the farmer fighting for his life against the agrarian crisis. The exhibition title Farmer is Wrestler pinpoints this very aspect of the farmer’s fate: a life which hangs in limbo.

As natives of Punjab, Thukral and Tagra delve into their own personal histories and memories to address the socio-cultural changes most visible in their home state. Shifting family values, a desire for ‘escape’ via migration, and changing middle-class aspirations have all been recurring motifs in their work. This exhibition carries forward the artists use of ‘games’ as a tool to address complex issues through interactive and playful means. Their approach intends to give viewers a sense of nostalgia and comfort, while still challenging the status-quo.

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