A Crack In The Surface (Studio 2)
Can a photograph – with its perfectly defined landscape, technical process, and thought-out composition – befuddle us into confusion? Images often leave us with an inexplicable sensation of the onset of dread and calamity, a hair-raising realisation that lurks around the edges of the frame until it is ready to stare back at our faces. Through these works, we are introduced to a subtle yet profound sense of shock and awe, repurposing our everyday living into a site of unassumed tension. This is glaringly profound in Raqs Media Collective’s Sleep Clock (2018), a lenticular print with its tongue-in-cheek humour about the passage of time and its effect on our various psychological states of being. Their work provokes our arbitrary systems, critically examining the methods and means by which we (try to) live life.
What we have with us is the proverbial (and literal) crack in the surface of everlasting beauty and desire; it is a romance brought into doubt, where the spectacular inches closer to the spectacle. Shadows slowly gain ground, grinding their phantasmic teeth as Raghu Rai’s Jantar Mantar, Delhi (1973) highlights. These photographs teleport us to a surface of tension, a craquelure that uncomfortably creeps all around us. It is an imposing concrete jungle that is inviting as well as threatening; a landscape, such as that of Vaibhav Raj Shah’s, that weans us out. In his Superficial v.03 (2013) or 22/100 (2012), we are made aware of imperfections and inadequacies that shake us from our utopian ideals; we are left with a grading sheet that ambiguously remarks on the fragility of our continued existence. It is the droning tick of a clock; the passage of time that slowly inches us closer to an unrecognisable anxious state. In these images, we witness an exploration of physical and psychological space, which Priyank Gothwal’s Public Clocks series (2019) makes us aware about.