Indian artist Prajakta Potnis explores intimate and public spaces of Mumbai and Kolkata through the meshes of time.

The third solo presentation of Prajakta Potnis with The Guild gallery in Mumbai, entitled “time lapse” is on show from 15 September to 27 October 2012. Art Radar takes a closer look at the exhibition and artwork, and speaks with the artist.

Installation view, "time lapse", The Guild, Mumbai, 2012. Image courtesy The Guild.

Installation view, "time lapse", The Guild, Mumbai, 2012. Image courtesy The Guild.

The two cities that form the backdrop of “time lapse”, Mumbai and Kolkata, are technically 1 hour, 2 minutes and 9.6 seconds apart, however this time difference has not been used since post-independence due to the introduction of Indian Standard Time.

Potnis uses different media such as photography, sculpture and installation to explore the gap in time between these two urban spaces and investigates “social and individual anxieties through the degeneration that happens within the everyday” and the “loopholes that exist within [India’s] warped bureaucratic system“.

In Clouds, beaded threads hang from fans revolving at different time rates and in System failure, a tubelight flickers at regular intervals, “remind[ing] one of the disregarded time lapse that’s lost in between“.

Prajakta Potnis, '6:19 pm', acrylic on archival paper, 30" x 40", 2012. Image courtesy The Guild.

Prajakta Potnis, '6:19 pm', acrylic on archival paper, 30" x 40", 2012. Image courtesy The Guild.

Art Radar caught up with Prajakta Potnis to discuss her work.

‘Time lapse’ is primarily a filmic technique. What challenges have you encountered in the translation of this technique into the photographs and sculptures featured in the current exhibition?

The title “time lapse” is an attempt to draw references to the time difference that exists between Mumbai and Kolkata. This difference of almost one hour, which was followed until independence, was completely ignored in the post independence era, in an attempt to … unify the nation. I find this veiled time gap quite intriguing. I am trying to look within this gap to see what transpires within it, if realities shift or distort. Within the sky photographs the filmic technique is quite literal: the sky was photographed from two vantage points, one being Mumbai and the other Kolkata. Relatively at the same time two people living in Mumbai and Kolkata tried to capture the light that overlaps the two cites so as to build some kind of a lyrical connection between the cities. Through the sculptural installation there is an attempt to draw a metaphorical connection between the lapse that exists and the slip that occurs on an everyday level. The sculptural installation consisting of varied sizes of ceiling fans, all installed on different levels and rotating clockwise and anti-clockwise, that are all set on different RPMs [is] an attempt to slow down time to reflect on the lethargy or slowness of a bureaucratic system.

In the Guild press release, you connect time lapse to a systems failure caused by a disguised authority that is stagnant and apathetic. Do you mean to imply that time and space, being two categories unfolding in the public domain, are subject to a political/bureaucratic system that arranges and corrupts them?

Absolutely the public domain is a more vulnerable space where one comes across these corrupt and sometimes failed systems. As an individual one often encounters these on a day to day basis. Draconian laws such as the law of sedition to sluggish judicial systems where unresolved cases are pending for years… [it is] a strange system that we are a part of. My endeavour is to build a relationship between the public and the private space, to see how the outside is affected by the inside, how various elements transgress and finally affect an individual.

Your previous work, Capsule, was very much focused on the concept of the degeneration of everyday life, exemplified by the images of decaying vegetables in a refrigerator, as a metaphor for the social and individual anxieties which occur in space and change, or even rot, through time. What is the connection between your past works and the current exhibition?

The previous work had an element of the passage of time woven within. I was almost closely following a certain kind of erosion that one encounters within the everyday. Through the current series I am looking at the element of time more specifically by referring to the geographical distance and its relationship to time. I am hoping to draw a metaphorical connection between time and place, only to see if degeneration or distortion occurs within the gaps that exist between notions of time and system failures.

Detail of 'Clouds' (installation). Image courtesy The Guild.

Prajakta Potnis, 'Clouds' (detail), installation. Image courtesy The Guild.

Potnis’ art brings to our attention contemporary issues such as urban alienation and its effects on an individual’s domestic sphere, and yet recalls, particularly in her paintings, a deep bond with Indian tradition. Exhibition curator Sumesh Sharma explains,

Prajakta presents portraits of objects that are deeply-etched reminders of our home. Functional and necessary, they often depict insights into our lives, a voyeuristic endeavour of personal choices. When these images confront us they instigate imagined visualisations of alien growth that arise out of feelings of entrapment within our personal spaces as well as the limitations of the city. Metaphorically reflecting on the entrapments of the state, Prajakta discusses her alienation while personally dealing with the city…. Akin to hand-painted photographs from the early-twentieth century, the construction of her paintings provides a perspective that draws attention to the mosquito net, or molecular fungal growth, against a serene background of dull grey, in an iconic manner often used in aquarelle Indian miniatures.

Indian artist Prajakta Potnis. Image courtesy The Guild.

Indian artist Prajakta Potnis. Image courtesy the artist.

More on Prajakta Potnis

Prajakta Potnis (b. 1980, India) earned her master’s degree in painting at Sir J.J. School of Arts, Mumbai. In 2001, she was awarded a Young Artist Scholarship by the Department of Culture of the Government of India and in 2003, she received the Inlaks Fine Arts Award.

Since 2006, following her first solo at The Guild, Potnis has participated in several group and solo exhibitions. In 2012, an exhibition of her work, titled “Room Without a Window” was presented at the India Art Fair by The Guild. In 2011, her work was displayed in the itinerant exhibit “Indian Highwaycurated by Julia Peyton-Jones, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Gunnar B. Kvaran and hosted at the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing.


Related Topics: gallery shows, Indian artistsMumbai art happenings

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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