In The Twinkle Of Your Eye Studio Long Shot1
When we asked contemporary artist Tahireh Lal about how her journey with art began, she couldn’t pick one certain memory. Art was, simply, always a part of her life. She doodled at the back of her books, always dabbled with paint in her free time, scribbled with crayons or wandered about and made little things out of found materials like flowers leaves, twigs sticks and stones. With the expansive resources that contemporary artists are blessed with, Tahireh is slowly carving a niche for herself using local contexts and materials to explore ideas, particularly notions of time and home. Her ideas find expression in the form of video, installation and sculpture.
With the opening of her second solo exhibition of installation and wall works at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath around the corner, we spoke to her to know more about her journey and the exhibition.
Could you tell us about the inception of your new show Phototrope?
The glimmers of Phototrope came to be when I moved to Assam eight years ago as a newlywed. My husband and I travelled through Assam often for work. On many of those drives we passed through the Kaziranga National Park at nighttime. There are no streetlights on that stretch, you can see the dark outline of trees against the night sky on either side of the highway and the road ahead is illuminated by reflectors that dot the roadside. It made for a strong visual juxtaposition of natural and man-made. This and other observations of light, including the changing shadows, sunsets, and moonrise over vast stretches of countryside, inspired the work. In many ways my gaze was very much that of an urban dweller making herself at home in rural Assam.
Do you have a creative process, can you talk in terms of your new work?
Yes, I do have a creative process. My work is reflexive in that I am constantly trying to understand why I am drawn to certain images or experiences, what they convey and how I can respond to those impulses through artwork. I use lived experience as a starting point. For example, long drives and the visual language of highways has played into how Phototrope has been generated and displayed. Ideas of natural and manmade run through the works, teasing out our understanding of a human-centred world.
How would you describe Phototrope in your own words?
Phototrope, the show, examines our affinities — humans as beings of light held by the darkness of the universe. Phototrope, the word, is drawn from the botanical term ‘phototropism’ which refers to the quality of plants to grow towards the light. In this body of work, the word, the work, the physical experience of the show, the thinking around each piece, all tie into each other. I explore light and darkness in several ways, physical and emotional.
Your ideas find expression in the form of video, installation and sculpture. How did you get to this point?
I have a background in digital video production, combined with an interest in material practice. The works I make take on material and time-based qualities. I’m always looking for ways where the idea, the medium, the work, the contexts and experience all resonate with each other. I don’t generally start out saying a work has to be a video or an installation or a sculpture, after a certain point in the research phase, a form will present itself that seems appropriate to the artwork in development.
What are your thoughts on the digital art space?
I’m very curious about the digital art space. In a way, video and photography work already inhabit the digital realm but the possibilities of the metaverse seem vast and exciting. I’m not certain there needs to be a ‘versus’ between digital and tangible, but rather an adaptive process if one would like to explore the space. One of the works in Phototrope, ‘In The Twinkle Of Your Eye’ has a digital counterpart, the NFTs for which will drop on the opening day. I’m running it as an experiment to understand for myself and perhaps others what the metaverse art space could be for those of us with material and offline practices.
Lastly what does the latter part of the year look like for you?
I’m looking forward to making more art! I have a new body of work that I am developing based on my experience of being a homeschooling artist mother from the days when school went online for my young children. I’ll be working on both digital and material production.
This exhibit will be running from 2nd to 10th July.
Text Hansika Lohani Mehtani