Space 118 presents a light and shadow installation by Space 118 Fine Art Grant, 2021-22 winner Tapan Moharana titled Lighted Cave. Fusing elements of the Rabana Chhaya, a form of shadow puppetry practised in Odisha, with the artist’s own training as a sculptor, Lighted Cave is a complex meditation on the politics of ecology, land and displacement. The concept has its roots in Moharana’s own pandemic-induced return from his studio in New Delhi to his native in Odisha, where he began reconnecting with various folk traditions. Using unfired clay objects, leather cuttings and black-paper silhouettes as storytelling props, Lighted Cave will be an interactive piece performed in front of an audience, allowing them to be part of the story.
Like the Rabana Chhaya, which through retellings of the life of Ravana (king of Lanka and chief adversary of Rama in the Ramayana) comment on the good and bad in human nature, the shadows reflected by the puppets in this work represent the shadow self in the Jungian sense, both in the individual and in the broader societal context, and becomes a commentary on the darker side of our shared history in terms of poverty and caste-based inequalities. The ‘cave’ in Lighted Cave stands in for the concept of ‘shunya’, the zero or void, the unsettled temporal space that is also a point of culmination.
Founded in 2009, Space118 provides studios and residencies to artists as part of its commitment to supporting emerging artists from within the country and abroad. By catering to a diverse group of artists working in the studios, Space 118 aims to foster an exchange of ideas and experiences across artistic disciplines.
Space 118 Fine Art Grant, 2021-22 winner, Tapan Moharana (b.1989, Odisha, India) is a multidisciplinary artist who received his MFA in Sculpture from Rabindra Bharati University, 2013. His artistic practice engages and questions the notion of land, displacement, and the politics of ecology. Moharana’s current practice influenced and developed through amalgamations of various local and indigenous art forms like shadow play and shadow theatre in his neighbourhood.