Interestingly titled A Sense of Dislocation, these works have indeed sprung from this deepening sense of dislocation that succeeds in creeping on to the viewer as well – the seamless balance of dazzling movement constructed on purpose in the backdrop of artificiality pops up against the uncanny darkness and effervescent light. The light, artificial and otherwise, in the forefront, becomes the connecting dot for the medium itself, which records electromagnetic radiations of all sorts. On top of being juxtaposed between two extreme realities – one that is a habitation and the other an almost empty space, here, the light becomes a tool to provide a three dimensional appearance, surpassing the limitations of the medium that offers plain and simple two dimensional experience of a multi-dimensional reality. The long exposure, necessitated by the dark ambience, shows what was and what is, bridging the time gap through murky reflections of a presence in its absence, meandering one about the trails left behind.
Here, the trails are not merely these ubiquitous mirages, but of the people and the animals that had dwelled and danced. The duo travels with the shepherds and their animals, who probably stayed at the stone structure that now marks the rear border of the Golconda fort, from where a swathe of thick forests grow west. They would have felt safe and enjoyed the vantage point. And, set a fire, warming up to the tune of the wind. Took a hard look at the Qutub Shahi royals (built from 1543 CE onwards) and talked of ghosts and gods. And, when the time came, they would have left with a nod of gratitude.
It is of the lifestyles of nomadic tribes, who wandered and gathered, and of graveyards that is now home to a remaining few pilgrims and the homeless who consciously or unconsciously continue a tradition that is at its verge of disappearing. It holds in it the dreams of the vagabonds and the fears of the settled. It talks of borders made of invisible lines that divide the world into unidentifiable fragments.
It is of spaces, and of their glory and abandonment. For example, the box near the Osmania University used to be a water tank during rains, an informal performance arena for university’s artists during peak summer, and at odd times, a hub for unknown purposes. When no humans were nearby, the box was usually occupied by peacocks. Now abandoned due to an unfathomable reason, this ruined structure lies exactly at the middle of a thin border which separates modern buildings of this prestigious university from a thick growth of trees. Where have all these artists and the dreamers gone?
It is of the journey of fire, from being a fierce, uncontrollable, wild one that urged the primitive man to invent gods and ghosts, to that of an manipulatable element at service to humans (not always but at least most of the times). And, it is of today’s artificial lights, that illuminates and erases the distinction between night and day. Of losing the circadian rhythm and harmony.
A Sense of Dislocation traces what was and what is, of what has been erased for the now to be emerged, and thus of loss and nostalgia for something that could never be brought back. One is forced to think about the timeless architecture that is in absolute contrast to concrete walls that locks people in. Of the narrowing borderlines of the wilderness that meekly gives way to the ravenous urbanization. Of changing lifestyles and lost dreams. Yet, in that chaos there is perfection, a compromise that bridges our collective past with the present, and focuses on a distant future. For, looking back doesn’t seem to be an option anymore.
Tracing and recollecting that bit of memory from the scents left behind eons ago, the two collaborators attempt to capture the growing feeling of displacement. Thoughtfully, in A Sense of Dislocation, the two artists have used only fire, probably to draw a distinction between the contrasting realities. The light performance is like a ceremonial gathering of sorts and a celebration of the loneliness and the joys of night and fire. It doesn’t have a specific theme but rather than re-enacting an imagined past, they aim to capture the mood of people and places. And the night is the perfect time for catching hold of an emotion that is both melancholic and ghostly. The photographs bear witness to this lonely performance, without which, there would be no evidence whatsoever to what had transpired. The development has succeeded in building walls, between one another, as well as between oneself and nature. Yet there will always be loners and off beats, who would wander into the nights, catching scents and capturing memories.
A Sense of Dislocation is an ode to the changing lifestyles and disappearing nightlife that once celebrated the moon and the stars, and the unlimited skies. As a collaborative project that has a concept and that interacts with other medium, this work stands apart. But what is setting this work apart from the common images of decaying structures, night photography, light painting, etc., is also at this point a limitation. The technical flaws such as the images becoming fuzzy with over exposure, and the conceptual shortcomings such as the angle and placement of the buildings are a disturbance, so to say. In these digital days, achieving perfection is not a tough deal and is a prerequisite. Playfully repeating the frames also means that, at this point, it is trial and error and that the doubts of the beginners have not yet been overcome. It would require a lot more collaboration between the participating artists, practice, as well as an interest and dedication to continue experimenting with the medium.