Art is subjective, its understanding is contingent to one’s perception, experiences, knowledge and sensibility about life. The same can be said about Farida’s exhibition “Os din ki Adhoori Kahani’ (That day’s incomplete story), it could be interpreted in multiple ways, if at all. Allow me to say that the title was thought provoking for me, as a cryptic code that had to be deciphered only after visiting the exhibition space.
As soon you enter the dim lit space of Rohtas 2 Gallery your eyes lay on an installation of hanging flowers (gulab ke phool). Farida’s gulab k phool are inviting but it is only when you take a step forward that you are appalled to engage with them. Because they are the antithesis of flowers, which trigger most of your senses: their vibrant hues please your eyes, fragile soft texture lures you to touch them and faint fragrance satisfies your soul. Farida’s intricately created flowers, both the laborious process of creating with thin metal sheets intertwined with metal wires, that resonate the delicateness of a fabric, and display in a gallery space, makes you rethink the connotation of flowers. Farida’s gulabs are both malign and mesmerizing: you are intrigued to hold them and at the same time you cannot touch them because of their malicious texture. Working with polarities is Farida’s forte, the flowers are pleasing to the eye yet they are colorless and unresponsive, they are alive and at the same time dead. A flower is an object that is a part of both celebration and grief. What is the purpose, if any at all, of Farida’s gulab ke phool? That is up to the spectator to fathom.
Farida’s creation of a dialogue between two artworks, the metal-wired flowers and a video installation, is a stimulating juxtaposition of two converging narratives. The two- minute silent video is about a journey that might not have ever happened or can only be speculated. The intersection of movement, elusive motion of trees and the shadows the flowers concealing the projection simultaneously, add profundity to Farida’s work. Like the title of Farida’s exhibition, the journey projected is incomplete (adhoori).
Certain artworks replicate nostalgia of the past like mimesis, others, lament or celebrate the contemporary and the now-ness of time and space. Only a few artworks encompass both, yet at the same time, they are neither about the past nor about the present. Farida’s penetrating artworks are timeless, transcending time and space to create a metaphysical aura that is difficult to fathom but simpler to sense.
I expected to get answers from ‘Os din ki Adhoori Kahani’ (That day’s Incomplete Story), but Farida’s artworks instigated more questions. Grief, anxiety, mourning and pain, all these words wandered inside my head about her artworks. Farida’s second video installation disturbs yet fascinates the spectator by recreating the ritual of bathing a body clad in a translucent white sheet that hugs the skin. The process of farewell from the ephemeral world, the act of body resting six-feet under after its soul departs from an once alive body is wrenching and sad. You watch the process of washing the body over and over again projected on a white box placed on the ground, it is hypnotic and it is sexual. Both the body and the cloth washed almost gently by water as if the act is unending, the repetition is tantalizing and enticing.
For her final display Farida uses a lenticular technique to add depth to the narrative of longing for solitude. Lenticular is used to project multiple perspectives and vantage points. The meaning and depth oscillates and alters from your standpoint and you speculate all kinds of probabilities about its interpretation. Her work does not just give aesthetically appealing imagery for this artwork but brings forth the various hues of blue and fallen leaves resonating sea and sand, isolation and whilst adding dense layers to her display.
Farida’s oeuvre is dark, it is a subversive narrative of our culture, politics and urban society. She is an artist who is cognizant of her changing surroundings, who can create a splendid sensory experience for the viewer based over a single memory. Her works are not just melancholic but also uncover a rupture in our turbulent society, however this revelation can only be experienced after revisiting her works over and over again