There was another life that I might have had, but I am having this one. — Kazuo Ishiguro
In early cinema, scenes of psychodrama were shot using a kaleidoscopic lens in order to present subjectivity as multifocal and non-centred, to suggest the scrambling of inner certainties, and to project a mirage-like external ethos of the unstable and uncanny. Similar processes of disaggregation underpin visions of family, location, friendship and sociality that Sukanya Ghosh maps along varied axes of space and time in her image-mosaics. The enigmatic elisions and ligations central to the artist’s conceptual, self-ethnographic, cross-media work are scrutinised in the re-compositions of her family’s ephemeral archive.
The Parting of Ways presents an array of new work by the artist, and signposts Ghosh’s formal training in fine art from M.S. University, Baroda and in animation from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. Since 2016, she has also focused on the construction of ‘optical collages’ that examine how we visually perceive/read ever-changing inner and outer environments. This part of her journey may well have provoked questions surrounding the popular art canon, or ways to engage with radical arts movements in the subcontinent. Morphing her visions of the real and the surreal and repeatedly staging arrival and departure, the artist interrogates the many symbolic valences of ‘location’ and other psycho-geographies.
Groups of image-collages, augmented by a single animation in this exhibition integrate various formats – small, medium, Polaroid and 35mm, later scanned and manipulated, and subsequently printed in variable sizes. A boldly free-associative mode, in medias res, asserted through divergent trajectories, annuls the scaffolding of design. Recombinant techniques – digitally sutured montages, grids, reiterative image sequences – urge one to contemplate different ways of understanding the ‘fragment’ and its varied creative uses across the arts. Can the fragment be seen as an autonomous form?
The works then expressly question whether we are drawn to the ‘trace’ because of its evocation of severance, loss, imperfection, schism, rupture, absence? Is it because we are always in a state of yearning for the larger sublimities that we fail to experience, the broader humane systems that we fail to implement, the full array of rights and freedoms that we fail to ensure for everybody? Perhaps the aesthetic here suggests that no matter where we locate ourselves, and whatever thresholds and interfaces we navigate, within each context our consciousness is a shifting middle world.
We are no more and no less than contingent, interdependent, transient, mutating assemblages: linked fragments of sensation, perception, ideation and memory…
Sukanya Ghosh’s artistic practice spans painting, photography, animation and the moving image. Grants/fellowships/awards she has received in the recent past include: the Generator Cooperative Art Production Fund Grant, 2021 (Experimenter, Kolkata); winner of FLOW Photofest – Wall Exhibition, 2020; 5 Million Incidents, 2020 (Goethe Institut and Raqs Media Collective); Flash France Artists Commission, 2017-18 (French Embassy in India); Charles Wallace India Trust Award, 2008; Commonwealth Vision Award, 2002 (Royal Commonwealth Society, UK). In early 2023 she was Artist-in-Residence at the Frans Masereel Centrum, Belgium. Ghosh has also attended residencies at Khoj, New Delhi; Spike Island, Bristol and AIR Vallauris, France.
Her recent group exhibitions/projects include Mycelial Legacies, curated by Deeksha Nath, Bikaner House, Delhi, 2023; Is The Image Even Human?, curated by Jasone Miranda-Bilbao, Cervantes Institute, Delhi, 2023; Imagined Documents, curated by Ravi Agarwal, Rencontres d’Arles 2022; The Texture of Promises, curated by Alejandro Castellote, Tabakalera, San Sebastian, 2022; VAICA: Indian Contemporary Video Art Festival, 2021; Vantage Point: Sharjah 9, Sharjah, 2021; FLOW Photofest, Inverness, Scotland, 2021; Mixed Media Musings, Art Heritage, Delhi, 2021; Repairing the Work of Time, curated by François Cheval, Lianzhou Museum of Photography, China, 2019 and Catalyst at Jimei x Arles Festival 2019, curated by Rahaab Allana.
Sukanya lives and works between Delhi and Calcutta.
Watch a video by the artist about her artistic practice