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What's Einstein got to do with art?

In a new exhibition in the city, an artist uses Einstein's theory of relativity as a starting point to explain a universe where objects acquire a fifth dimension the minute they are put into a museum

Enter the quiet Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum and you will be greeted by imposing installations. After the enormity of the work sinks in and you try studying the pieces, their complexity and the intelligence of the artist will leave you bemused and, in some cases, stunned.


Enlightenment machine (beta version 2) takes inspiration from
a knife-grinder


The artist is 41 year-old Lakshmi Narayana Tallur, who is also a qualified museologist. His exhibition is titled Quintessential and it will be on till February 4.

According to Tallur, in his latest work, he has used Albert Einstein's theory of relativity as a starting point to explain the universe. He states that the objects of this universe acquire a fifth dimension when they are 'museumised'.

Tallur says, "Einstein's most descriptive testimony on theory of relativity came when his lifelong friend Besso died. Einstein wrote a letter to Besso's family, saying that although Besso had preceded him in death, it was of no consequence: 'For us physicists, the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one', he wrote.

Tallur adds, "A museum, normally exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment. I believe, when an object of art is museumised, it creates this fifth dimension; which is a further addition to Einstein's four dimensions."

His works are known to blend the ancient with the modern; he is attracted to popular culture and socio-political and economical issues; and his work shows his inclination towards the morbid.

He admits that he tries to explore absurdities in the world and he always inserts a little dark humour in them. One such example is his work ATM (Anger Therapy Machine) in the exhibition. A large installation with two chairs, it is meant for 'temperamental people'. According to Tallur, the ATM derives its inspiration from the punkha of colonial times, where a punkahwallah would pull the rope to manually fan his master.

"I found it a very contemporary way to manage anger. Anger is a normal human emotion, but when it gets out of control and turns destructive, it can lead to problems. I have developed a device, which can efficiently manage anger. When angry, a person can sit here and start thinking," he adds.

Tallur's favourite installation is theĀ  Enlightenment machine (beta version 2). The artist says, "It is inspired from a knife-grinder. In a knife grinder, the process of grinding and sharpening happen simultaneously. When you are uncomfortable with something, you can grind it and give it a new shape."

AT: 10 am to 5.30 pm, Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum, Byculla (E)
Call: 65560394

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