Shambhavi Kaul

24 Oct – 25 Nov 2017

Silver Bird

Shambhavi Kaul’s work, science fictive in its approach, examines notions of site and place, and how cinematic narratives have defined the two. To this end, her films employ both documentary and fictional frameworks, incorporating analog, digital, and archival media. Kaul’s practice has expanded over the years to include moving-image installations. And while early work was made for the movie theatre, installations such as Fallen Objects (2015) and Modes of Faltering (2016) question the very idea and relevance of the theatre space, especially in light of cinema’s dispersion into multiple screens and spaces. 

A defining characteristic of Shambhavi's work to date, across films, videos, and installations, has been the absence of human players. This strategy has enabled Kaul to interrupt cinema’s most pervasive narrative trope: that of self-determined individuals inside seamless spaces and times. ‘Protagonism’ is offered up, instead, as an expanded field for identification that includes backdrops, objects, and animals -- the very mise en scène of cinema.

Silver Bird, the artist’s second solo show at Jhaveri Contemporary, complicates several of these ideas further. The exhibition is made up of four parts: a single-channel film, a series of photographs, a 40-page booklet, and a two-channel video installation. Each of these elements approaches the site of ‘airplane space’ in a distinct (and defining) way. In this cosmos, Kaul casts her subjects, human and otherwise, as meager pawns; ghostly material markers upon whom the abstract forces that govern this site are exerted. 

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