From Telangana to Tokyo

By: Kota Saumya

It was a chance meeting that got city-based artist couple Swati and Vijay Kumar, an invitation to exhibit their work at the Biwako Biennale exhibition soon to be held in Tokyo, Japan.

The couple was displaying their work at the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, (ENSDA) in Paris where Swati was an exchange student when the invitation came along.

Their work, a contemporary style sound installation caught the attention of the curator of the Japanese exhibition who then invited them to the exhibit that will see artists from across the globe display their work.

“We had won the competition by ENSDA through which we got a scholarship to stay in Paris for six months. During a showcase, the curator came up to us and invited us for the Tokyo exhibit,” says Vijay Kumar, who is a graduate in fine arts from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University College of Fine Arts while his wife Swati holds a masters degree from the same university.

Explaining their concept titled ‘Sweet Heart’, Vijay says, “It is a contemporary piece for which we have gathered 1000 ants. How the sound installation works is a heartbeat sort of sound is emitted by a speaker which attracts the ants. Their response and the formations made forms the crux of the installation.” So why the name Sweet Heart?

“Ant societies bear similarities with that of our societies. In this regard one can find parallels in the communication, networking abilities and in collectively solving complex problems. However, the post­industrial human societies preoccupation with technological and scientific advancement has created a serious gap between us and the environment around. In order to rethink about our very own moral fibre we need to take a fresh approach,” shares Vijay who admits the installation is meant to be taken in “a humorous manner with a pinch of salt.”

While ants seem to be a common feature in most of the artworks in the couple’s portfolio, there are few pieces that stand out like the Bansky-inspired Gandhi graphic they painted on the Jubilee Hills check post during the Telangana agitations.

While the couple has exhibited art installations before, their shows have mostly been limited to paintings on different mediums.

One reason behind this, Vijay points out is the lack of infrastructure for such installations. “Most galleries here are built in a way where installation based works can’t be displayed. Hopefully that will change soon,” feels Vijay. So far, the Vijay and Swati have displayed their work in Hyderabad, Chennai, Baroda, Mysore, Canada and Paris.

Source: The New Indian Express

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