If a tree falls in the Metaverse, does it echo and shake the earth? Do the birds cry in mourning?
Thukral and Tagra’s new body of work contends with the increasingly porous boundaries between the online and the offline, and the new norms that come with this terrain. Imagined as an Arboretum, the trees that are the inspirations for this series of paintings glitch and fold onto themselves, repeating, while other details dissolve into pixels. Hidden behind the leaves, abstracted characters watch you watching them. Is there any escape from being seen?
Painted in photo-realistic detail, the paintings of Arboretum reverse the desire to photograph everything and stretches time into contemplation: painting flowers as a meditative act of worship. Across the paintings, the artists reflect this sense of logging data through the systematic organization of details and using dots as visual interruptions. Ideating from the studio that they refer to as a greenhouse, Thukral and Tagra ask how this world should be? And how can a new public forum evade the glitches that were once commonplace? Like gardeners, they say, we pick the weeds, turn over the soil, water the plants, and the Arboretum will bloom.
Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra work collaboratively with a wide range of media including painting, sculpture, installations, interactive games, video, performance and design. Thukral & Tagra work on new formats of public engagement and attempt to expand the scope of what art can do. They break out of the mediated and disciplinary world and create multi-modal sensory and immersive environments. Their early work dealt with tropes of migration and motifs of a globally manifested consumer culture, questioning the provenance of Indian identity and its various articulations. Their more recent work has dealt with the interpretation of Indian mythological narratives and symbols, the on-going social ramifications of the agrarian crisis going on throughout India, while they have collaborated with other cultural practitioners to explore enhanced modes of communications that can erode boundaries between established disciplines.