Past as present

The first thing that strikes one on entering the spacious gallery is the lone sentinel bookshelf, as if remnants of a long lost civilisation, made of Burma teak and resin.

A bust of a man engages the top shelf, as he stares blankly into space. The lower shelves consist of books, where the spines are lasered with their titles.

Infact, in all the installations, vertical or spherical, the artist has used Burmateak, resins, fibres, spices, seeds, frankincense, figwood, powders of coal, and bark and even kolu dolls, bazaar brought figurines, displayed during the Autumn festival in South India.

Titled ‘Aggregate’ quite a few portable library cupboards are visible which are reassembled from re-used Burmateak and ‘arranged’ with row upon row of books that are ‘sculpted’ from re-used bits of beam, canned chipped paint.

The four wide mouthed containers each made of paper mache of assorted fibres are meticulously clad with translucent seeds. Kolu dolls are part of a ritual practice which she has incorporated that are recast in resin, wherein she explores the vernacular in Christian faith.

Chennai-based writer Sadanand Menon says, “Benitha is among the few contemporary artists who exults in celebrating the sensuality of memory, erasure and trace. To mark the passage of time as an incremental aggregate is a crucial concern for her.”

Thus, ‘Aggregate’ sums up this new breed of installation artists, who are more concerned with making environmental statements, rather than sales of their work. Full marks here.

Where: At Gallerie Mirchandani and Steinreucke, Mumbai.Till October 15, 2019.