A series of random happenings at a house in the city — an intruder coming in a house and leaving in a body bag, a person being monitored and in turn being monitored on camera by someone else, and a brawl — are some of the images that dominate Narcissicon, a 43-minute video by artist Kiran Subbaiah, at Chatterjee & Lal gallery.
On the surface, the images seem random and are perhaps part of a person’s daydream. At the same time, it is also a satirical comment on the society and how it views the artist and how he observes the world at large.
Subbaiah trained as a sculptor from the Royal College of Art, London and MSU, Baroda. However, he works in mediums like photography, video, sculpture and installation. Humour and irony are integral to his works. He questions the relationship between function and value, through his art works, causing reactions and effects.
About the title and theme, Subbaiah says, “I was accused of narcissism in my previous videos because it was always ‘I, me and myself’ in them. So, I decided to plead guilty and indulge in myself more deeply in this video.”
Interestingly, the video includes several time jumps in terms of its various elements. “It is difficult to answer over what period of time it was shot as work is inseparably entangled with daydreaming. The earliest shot dates back to five years ago, some of the text dates back to 14 years ago and certain robotic devices used were conceived nine years ago, and completed much later,” he adds.
The video, which has no clear beginning or end, will be accompanied by several film stills as well. Subbaiah admits that it might present a challenge to the audience: “Watching 45 minutes of a single channel video is a bit of a challenge for a gallery audience. The stills are an attempt to persuade the audience to watch. If they don’t have the patience or time then the stills will at least provide them with a rough overview of the video.”
Quiz him about the switch from sculpture to video, and he is non-committal. “In being compelled to make a choice in art school, sculpture appealed to me the most because it engaged the body, physically. I wish I had trained in acrobatics instead. Making videos was not a shift, but an extension.” Subbaiah has exhibited his works at London, Paris and Delhi and participated in residencies in Norway, New Delhi, Germany and Amsterdam.
Till February 9, 11 am to 7 pm
At Chatterjee & Lal, 01/18 Kamal Mansion, Arthur Bunder Road Colaba.