ANXIETY (Studio 3)
In between finding a beautiful moment to photograph with a camera, and beautifying moments with the camera’s photographs, there is a torrid subtlety of life that is earmarked by tension, discord, and anxiety. It is a grating liminal space where thorns outnumber roses; it is a very naked and stark depiction of life which echoes dejection, disappointment, disapproval, and loss. When we see Nikhil Chopra lying down in a foetal pose, his hands lightly clutching onto a black chalk that has scribbled its life away on the back wall, we find ourselves in a place of abandonment. Is he sleeping peacefully, or is he craving a primal comfort after the harshness of reality? He is the despairing man’s Pieta, a stigmata that becomes a grand metaphor for all our insecurities, our troubles that we wish to sleep away.
These photographs come to bare such moments of self-consciousness that leave us vulnerable at the doors of ceaseless nervousness. Shreyas Karle’s Ajooba Series 4 (2010) harnesses such edginess, visually introducing a provocative language through his photographs that probe into our psychological distresses. It is a skittish shadow, a whimsical absurdity that plunges into a hidden realm – taking our peace with it. Shivanjani Lal’s With Our Back Turned (2017) creatively elaborates on this friction between the desire to settle in this world and the hostility of its acceptance. By embroidering the image of a monument with red thread, Lal symbolically binds herself to the land; a land from which she is temporally and spatially distanced. It is an unexpunged fright that is haunting in Priyank Gothwal’s ∞ (2019). His creative and experimental medium involving stills and moving images translates into a sensorium that psychologically casts a shadow on our calm and composed exteriors. The image itself is rocking, jarring our viewing – and throwing us in a bind, a net of closures that Daisy Bopanna’s Untitled #1 (2017) explicitly highlights.
These are images that leave us dazed and confused; Mansi Bhatt’s Superhero series (2007) draws upon a cruel distinction of wants and realities; of enjoying moments larger-than-life and cowering behind feelings that atomise us into nothingness. It is a state of confused suspension, a blind path that we walk upon – what Jyoti Bhatt’s On the Road Alone (2023) dictates. The photograph is a documentation of not just a tribal, rural landscape, but a mapping of our very longings, a long and empty journey where the horizon fails to come in view oftentimes. This is a walk through the valley of shadows; death, perhaps looming in the distance.