Apeejay Arts is hosting a video installation show titled Deathlessness by Ashish Avikunthak. Active in the art and film circuits since late 1990s, Avikunthak has established himself as one of India’s most prolific film artistes.
For his first exhibition, Avikunthak presents a suite of five works spanning sixteen years which reflect his ongoing inquiry into the nature of life and death, the intersection of time and filmic/narrative structures and contemporary readings of classical philosophical themes. Avikunthak’s films are highly formal meditations on ritual, time and death.
They are rooted in Indian religion, philosophy and history, without being about any of these in an anthropological way. Unlike his Indian peers, who use symbols of their cultural identity in a way that is decipherable for biennial and art-fair audiences, Avikunthak’s works strongly resist being so easily packaged for the new global artworld circuits in an art world where an increasing number of critics are arguing that art takes the form of hollowed-out visual esperanto.
Avikunthak’s works insist on an Indian epistemology while utilising a rigorously formal visual language that is clearly aware of Western avant-grade practices such as those of Andrei Tarkovsky and Samuel Beckett. These are self-consciously difficult works that are filmed in a self-consciously beautiful way.
His film Rati Chakravyuh is the story of six newly married couples. On a lunar eclipse midnight, in a desolate temple, six young newlywed couples and a priestess meet after a mass wedding. They sit in a circle and talk happening to be their last conversation – an exchange about life, death, beginning, end and everything in between. After a discussion that lasts more than an hour and a half, they commit mass suicide.
Vakratunda Swaha is a film made over a course of 12 years. It begins as a requiem to a friend who passed away and ends as a contemplation on death and ritual. Using the footage of the late artist Girish Dahiwale (1974-1998) filmed in 1997 as the kernel, the film is a meditative exploration on the place of dying and resurrection in our times.
Katho Upanisahd is an adaptation of a two and half thousand years old Sanskrit treatise of the same name, where Yama instructs Nachiketa about the path towards enlightenment. Structurally, the film is a triad with three chapters – the quest, the dialogue and the final liberation.
Et Cetera is a tetralogy of four separate films made between 1995-1997. They seek to examine the various levels at which the reality of human existence functions. In these films, specific ritual exercitations have been focused on and their movements, contemplated upon, by studying the dynamics of their etymologies.
Where: Apeejay Arts
When: On till May 31
Timings: 11 am - 7 pm