20x10in, each, 2016
A walk down the staircase into the basement gallery, Meher Afroz Vahid’s debut solo exhibition, Simat kar kis liye nuqta nahin banti zamin, (Tell me why the earth does not compress into one point? Why did the expanded sky seduce the heart? -Meeraji) at Threshold Gallery seems like a walk down the recess of one’s mind, one where forgotten memories flow out of the seams when with family or friends, a sense of negotiating a space of belonging, a longing to make sense of the past as one sets out for the future, a constant conflict of trying to make sense of a childhood that is lost as one treads through adulthood.
Agoraphobia - Claustrophobia,Knitting with wool & zari
8x4 ft, 2018
Being from a traditional family, the artist draws inspiration heavily from cultural symbols, this is evident in the installation titled “Epitaph” which is an inscription of “Nad-E-Ali”, a prayer narrated by the artist’s father at bedtime through her childhood on a wax pillow, the artwork can be symbolic of finding comfort in childhood, a sense of security it offers, an escape from the everyday reality of adulthood, this idea of belonging expands to her other installation “Ghar se dur Ghar” which is a well like cement installation with water in which the text inscribed in urdu meaning ghar se dur constantly spurs so that at one point it starts to read out ghar se dur ghar, which constantly challenges the notion of “home”, whether to engage with the concept as a physical space or a memory. The concept of home as an entity that can be ever changing as we move out of our childhood homes, to different cities or as finding comfort or home in another person, whether in friends or in a romantic partner.
Epitaph, Dua ‘Nad -e- Ali’ on pillow Wax and plaster
2x4 ft, 2018
The artworks use the natural manipulation of organic substances to create works that talks about the constant transformations and movements present, the idea of engaging in constant back and forth, the only constant being change and transgressions. The urdu inscriptions of words, Guftagu, Khat, Khamoshi, Waqt, Marna and Miln with brass wires on soap tiles, speak of this change, the artist comments, “ All materials I use become signifiers of the body, this wish to constantly be transforming into something else and observing that change, body being together with the mind, the idea of then having multiple selves, the mediums I play with keep transforming, they are constantly in flux. Like the soap tiles I inscribed with brass wires embedded, there are active with each other, that’s why the stains, the result now has changed, it has a life of its own.”
Installation Soap melting under bulb
While the works display an understanding of transformations, change and a sense of moving forward there is an underlying conflict of unlearning as well as the burden of trying to cling on to the past. Vahid’s pieces like Zari, a two-piece video installation of the process of weaving and dying of thread, explores the violent nature of everyday acts, the ritualistic everyday existence and the burden of coming to terms with the realisation of cultural learnings that leave imprints on our idea of the self, this can be juxtaposed with her piece “Aj” an inscription of the word meaning today on a cement residue, the artist says that “ Everytime the pieces fall out I stick them back together, there is an urge to preserve the past.” These two pieces along with her set of six photographs, titled “Aasman” the idea of using a found piece of mirror to capture the sky become emblematic of her exhibition which explores the changing dynamics of finding meaning both culturally and spiritually, tangled in the constant chaos of unlearning cultural rituals while preserving a sense of past, a way of staying grounded to one’s roots. The idea of being found merging into the blurring boundaries of transformation and understanding of multiple selves.
Meher Afroz Vahid
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Meher is a Mumbai based artist. She did her diploma in sculpture from Sir J. J. School of Fine Arts (2016), Mumbai & MFA from Shiv Nadar University (2018), Delhi. She has done a three-month residency, funded by Future Foundation (2017), Switzerland. Torn between the urge to expand boundaries and the need to gravitate around a concrete and familiar centre, her works present a subtle exploration of a personal, cultural and even spiritual transition.
Text Samiksha Chaudhary