Vir Kotak uses installation art and abstract photography to express complexity of memory

Mar 12, 2017, 11:10 IST | Kusumita Das

Vir Kotak
Vir Kotak

As we walk into the expanse of the Jehangir Art Gallery terrace on a Wednesday morning, our gaze stops at a 12-feet high grid made of stainless steel rods, structured like a series of hollow cuboids. The geometric pattern is reflected on the surface of the four mirrors around it, each reflection distinct from the other. "Just like our memories, when visited from different perspectives," says Vir Kotak, as he adds the finishing touches, a few hours ahead of the opening of his show, The Memory Project. Kotak, who comes from a lineage of entrepreneurs, is the joint managing director of the JB Maxi Group. While his day job as an entrepreneur seems miles away from his art, he feels the two aren't as mutually exclusive as they seem to be. "As an entrepreneur, I create businesses — working in that environment is actually an art in itself," says Kotak, who took a little over a year to compile the series.

It's interesting how he has captured the fleetingness of memory with interactive art pieces. As an extension to the steel grid on the terrace, there's a similar one inside the gallery, except this one has hinges which enable one to move the hollow boxes. As we push them to walk in, and they swing back into a pattern, the artist explains how that's symbolic of the way memories keep changing every time one revisits them. "Every time you interact with your memories, you project something onto them, which changes them.

Therefore, what you remember today, will be different from how you remember it tomorrow," he says. Kotak also explains why he has left the grid hollow. "We see memories as watertight, but in reality they are fluid, and constantly changing as we change. That's why I have left the cuboids hollow. Filling them with something would be limiting the possibilities. Also, the grid is indicative of how we like to compartmentalise our memories. But when that gets reflected on the mirrors, one thing flows into another, showing how memories can't be put in specific boxes," Kotak explains.

There are a series of abstract photo works that form the rest of the exhibition, all of them in monochrome. The photos have been shot on a Leica monochrome, in black and white, and each frame has a hand-written caption underneath. Clearly, the artist has analog leanings. Kotak tells us he's not a fan of post-processing work. "The way the photos appear here is exactly the way they were shot. I have tried to remain as puritan about the process as possible, even with cropping. Also, I have taken care to keep them abstract, so as to not concentrate on the banality of the subject, but instead, dwell in the emotions it invokes. More than a photographer, I see myself as someone who's trying to engage with visual arts, and is of course comfortable with photography as a medium. When I see things, I see the texture, pattern and that's what I engage with."

When: Till March 14, 11 am to 7 pm
Where: Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda
Contact: 2284 3989

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