Competitive collaborators? Wary neighbors? Or frenemies? The two “Asian” giants China and India face off with each other in a series of Scaria’s reflections on the past and present of his homeland and an intimate Other.
Video, two channel with sound, 6 minutes
Driven by archival impulse, this photo-and-video installation work inter-digitates historical photographs and other images of two unlikely men whose familiar visages are retrieved from that vast new public archive that is the World Wide Web. In Scaria’s own words, ‘This is an attempt to understand the psyche of two nations through historical narratives and the personalities of two leaders who dedicated their lives to creating modern India and modern China respectively. In terms of historical time, personal values, political philosophy and the impact on the people of their own country, M. K. Gandhi and Mao Zedong stand in a polarity to each other. These historical icons when placed next to each other invoke reflections on nation building and its impact on contemporary social psyches.’ By suggesting a formal equivalence between these founding figures, the work renders the familiar a little less familiar by this very act of audacious, some might even say blasphemous, juxtaposition.
2011 Inkjet print on Epson enhanced matte paper, 36 x 90.8 inches
‘City has been a fascinating subject and a curious object for me since many years. When I move from one city to the other, I look for the similarities and differences. Apart from the natural tendency of comparing one place to the other in terms of size and structure, I would also make an effort to understand the psyche of a particular city… But, where does one seek these clues? Does it come out of the speculation of a foreigner? Or has it to be scooped out of the imagination of the inhabitant?’ In Equator, Scaria digitally confronts two iconic cities of today’s globalized world, New Delhi and Shanghai, geographically separated by hundreds of miles but connected to each other through a shared imperial past albeit as very different kinds of metropolises in a global British Empire. Their twenty-first century fate also appears to be different, even hemispheres apart, Scaria seems to suggest, as the elegant Shanghai skyline dwarfs the Indian capital, that is also home to the artist.
Face to Face
Inkjet print on Epson enhanced matte paper, 52 x 36 inches
Scaria has been described as a twenty-first century nagrik, a man about town, scanning the cityscapes that he encounters on his worldly journeys to understand the subjectivity of other nagriks who also inhabit the contemporary world. If in Equator, the artist suggests that Shanghai and New Delhi are hemispheres apart, Face to Face offers a more equivocal image of the immobile Shanghai skyline interrupted by a mobile New Delhi that literally cuts through: Is the artist hinting that India seems to be going somewhere, its giant neighbor to the north already frozen in its very monumentality?