Tejal Shah @ Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2019

07/04/19 ZM

Emoji summary: 💡💿 🍃


So you’ve seen our vlog of the Biennale, you’ve read Gab’s text on Temsüyanger Longkumer. It is time to get in to some hardcore affect. I think the room Tejal Shah occupied in the Kochi Biennale was my favourite. I will tell you why. 

I think I just really liked the entire lighting / ambience / mood of Coir Godown in Aspinwall House. That was the building with the ring-light for a gallery, and the entire space was lit a kind of warm light brown beige. Under a thatched roof / against the imperfectly plastered walls / across a kinda dusty brown floor. The space was already grounded, in that it felt like I wasn’t really inside - truly. The works were sparse, some prints, 3 projections, a short bench in the middle. 

This work was good, small, subtle, an unassuming scale, but in its smallness there wasn’t a shrinkage. It left space for me, for my body, and for me to remember my body. For me to feel its entire exterior as the clammy air of the midday heat rubbed against the surface of my skin, clinging to arm hairs on the way. This work felt like a body centered within it, but opaque and distant; body as an underbelly rather than a foreground. It was powerful, I think, I felt the space between me and the work concertina up and fold closer, collapsing in, a palpable proximity. I Felt: it was the affectation that you only get from an artist who’s bothered to consider already what their work ~feels~ like rather than just how it reads intellectually. Like breath on ur neck, ~earthy crunchy, a brittle snap into atmosphere.

The biggest work was one massive print (from Hijra Fantasy Series) of a tableau that felt semi-pseudo-religious. Two figures poised but not stiff, an intimacy in their closeness; in the red henna tipped fingers. To the red silk sari draped plump on shoulder >> to bangle stack >> the back of the pallo is a shimmering bright gold, cast in shadow >> pointing finger, fleshy pad of the tip turned up to the sky >> distance, sky >> a fat, glowing moon. 

On the other side of the room, a low mounted screen with a slow moving film: black and white, where the mountains have met the sea. The only thing moving was the waves as they shimmered against the rocks. 

To the right, a film projected, not quite as big as the wall, but nearly! Grainy black and white footage of waterlogged mud / a field with a masked figure / hands holding a mirror the shape of a crescent moon from afar, they tilt the mirror back and forth and the light from the sun reflects back into the lens, flaring glare. (the same crescent moon mirror is in a projection on the wall opposite, resting in the sand, shape curving upwards like a U, the tips of the crescent are burning with an orange smoke. Like incense or smudge stick. The shape of the projections is a romantic blurred oval. The mirror burns from the tips inwards and the orange flames consume it.) I am glad for the soundtrack on this film, it cuts over the visuals with a throbbing kind of tension. Where (in the video) you can hear us say the work matches our jet lag, I think the soundtrack stopped the work from slipping into something soothing. It was tense, not in an ominous or foreboding way, but in a way that meant there was an implied toughness. It felt like something was building, but we never reached, it never arrived. The tension just hummed away - and I felt It rattling through the space like how you can always feel bass in your collarbone. 

I liked this room in the same way I like the aesthetic feeling of Dubai (rather than the politics or actual existence); they say there are shopping malls with marble floors, and the courtyards outside them go for a few hundred meters, but there is a point at which the marble stops and the sand reclaims the edges. You can’t see that from Google satellite, or from the top floor of the Burj al-Arab, but I imagine if you walked all the way up to the edge of that courtyard, you’d see a hot wind blowing sand across the marble floor, sand creeping over the edge. How do I describe that deep and whole pleasure of an aesthetic that just ~is a perfect embodiment of liminality? I never can, I never have the words, I can never be bothered. I wish you were there to feel it vibrate from within ur chest like bass. I think that is a kind of powerful aesthetic moment. I think art is well placed here to be felt, affect feels amplified under a boiling hot sun, the clammy air of midday heat. 

b͓̽e͓̽s͓̽t͓̽ ͓̽v͓̽i͓̽e͓̽w͓̽e͓̽d͓̽ ͓̽i͓̽n͓̽ ͓̽l͓̽a͓̽n͓̽d͓̽s͓̽c͓̽a͓̽p͓̽e͓̽
͓̽o͓̽r͓̽ ͓̽o͓̽n͓̽ ͓̽a͓̽ ͓̽d͓̽e͓̽s͓̽k͓̽t͓̽o͓̽p͓̽

{ 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔬𝔫𝔩𝔶 𝔯𝔢𝔞𝔰𝔬𝔫 𝔗𝔥𝔢 𝔚𝔥𝔦𝔱𝔢 𝔓𝔲𝔟𝔢 𝔠𝔞𝔫 𝔰𝔱𝔦𝔩𝔩 𝔢𝔵𝔦𝔰𝔱 𝔦𝔰 𝔟𝔢𝔠𝔞𝔲𝔰𝔢 𝔰𝔬𝔪𝔢 𝔬𝔣 𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔯𝔢𝔞𝔡𝔢𝔯𝔰 𝔠𝔥𝔬𝔬𝔰𝔢 𝔱𝔬 𝔰𝔲𝔭𝔭𝔬𝔯𝔱 𝔲𝔰 𝔢𝔞𝔠𝔥 𝔪𝔬𝔫𝔱𝔥 𝔳𝔦𝔞 𝔓𝔞𝔱𝔯𝔢𝔬𝔫. 𝔚𝔢 𝔰𝔬𝔪𝔢𝔱𝔦𝔪𝔢𝔰 𝔡𝔬 𝔱𝔞𝔩𝔨𝔰 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔬𝔱𝔥𝔢𝔯 𝔧𝔬𝔟𝔰 𝔟𝔲𝔱 𝔓𝔞𝔱𝔯𝔢𝔬𝔫 𝔦𝔰 𝔥𝔬𝔴 𝔴𝔢 𝔤𝔢𝔱 𝔭𝔞𝔦𝔡 𝔣𝔬𝔯 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔞𝔠𝔱𝔲𝔞𝔩 𝔴𝔯𝔦𝔱𝔦𝔫𝔤 𝔥𝔢𝔯𝔢 - 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔯𝔢𝔳𝔦𝔢𝔴𝔰 𝔫 𝔞𝔯𝔱 𝔱𝔥𝔬𝔲𝔤𝔥𝔱𝔰 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔰𝔬 𝔬𝔫. 𝔄𝔫𝔡 𝔦𝔱'𝔰 𝔰𝔬 𝔦𝔪𝔭𝔬𝔯𝔱𝔞𝔫𝔱 𝔱𝔬 𝔲𝔰 2 𝔱𝔥𝔞𝔱 𝔴𝔢 𝔠𝔞𝔫 𝔰𝔱𝔞𝔶 𝔦𝔫𝔡𝔢𝔭𝔢𝔫𝔡𝔢𝔫𝔱 𝔠𝔯𝔦𝔱𝔦𝔠𝔰 𝔴𝔦𝔱𝔥𝔬𝔲𝔱 𝔱𝔦𝔢𝔰 𝔱𝔬 𝔟𝔦𝔤 𝔣𝔲𝔫𝔡𝔢𝔯𝔰 𝔬𝔯 𝔦𝔫𝔰𝔱𝔦𝔱𝔲𝔱𝔦𝔬𝔫𝔰, 𝔭𝔲𝔟𝔩𝔦𝔠 𝔬𝔯 𝔭𝔯𝔦𝔳𝔞𝔱𝔢. 𝔗𝔥𝔞𝔫𝔨 𝔶𝔬𝔲 𝔣𝔬𝔯 𝔟𝔢𝔦𝔫𝔤 𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔬𝔩𝔡 𝔱𝔦𝔪𝔢𝔶 𝔭𝔞𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔰 - 𝔴𝔢'𝔩𝔩 𝔡𝔬 𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔟𝔢𝔰𝔱 𝔱𝔬 𝔭𝔯𝔬𝔡𝔲𝔠𝔢 𝔮𝔲𝔞𝔩𝔦𝔱𝔶 𝔬𝔲𝔱𝔭𝔲𝔱; 𝔴𝔯𝔦𝔱𝔢 𝔰𝔱𝔲𝔣𝔣 𝔱𝔥𝔞𝔱 𝔦𝔰 𝔱𝔥𝔬𝔲𝔤𝔥𝔱𝔣𝔲𝔩 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔰𝔦𝔫𝔠𝔢𝔯𝔢. }

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