Where Are We: Madhu Das

10 July 2020 - 31 August 2020

Prameya Art Foundation, New Delhi, Delhi, India

Madhu Das. Where Are We, 2014. Archival print on hahnemuhle archival paper, 19.6 x 29.5 in. Courtesy of PRAF

Prameya Art Foundation (PRAF) are pleased to announce our second exhibition in the Discover series: Where Are We by Madhu Das. Featuring a previously unseen body of work produced in 2014, the project is a nostalgic encounter with public art when such possibilities have been severely affected by the pandemic.

Where Are We stages an encounter between public space and social structures through surreal visions that explore the mechanisms of power in everyday lives by conflating personal memory and collective history. Madhu Das collected 60 individual sarees from different families around the village Hiriyur, which were woven together to form a 155 feet long and 25 feet wide quilt which was then hung from the Marikanave Gorge, one of the oldest — initiated in 1855, taking over 10 years to complete — and most capacious man made reservoir in the Asia. Documentation of this site-specific, performative gesture examines craft-making in contemporary practice as visual representation of subject-positions, and consequently interpolated into ideological, political and cultural structures of power. Ostensibly, from a distance, the quilt constitutes a colourful intervention, breaking the 1330 feet length of the dam. The detailed patterns of the quilt also refer to the overlooked texture that often comprises the large picture.

Das’s emphasis on detail posits a return to sensitivity towards nuance in mainstream discourses on culture. The dam anchors a community that emerged around it as labour for its construction, over 5000 workers migrating from Kadappa and Kurnool districts of the erstwhile Madras Presidency, Poona and surrounding districts. By situating the quilt as a composite cultural fabric of the diverse community that emerged around the Marikanave Gorge, on itself, Das calls into question the tension between the legacy of rapid industrialization and fragile existences that are relocated, and pushed to the shadows of the imposing structure.

View the exhibition on PRAF’s website here.

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