Half Oxygen, 2014

Installation view, Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai

Half Oxygen
electric wire, metal ring, speaker with built-in
micro-sd card sound playback

Half Oxygen is among a range of works by Reena Kallat that dwells on the violent conflict between her native India and its neighbour Pakistan over Kashmir. The two countries, formed out of the partition of the sub-continent in 1947, are represented in the installation by their national trees—India’s banyan and Pakistan’s deodar—embroidered with electric cables on a frame resembling the ones used in home embroidery. The trees are conjoined at the base and take the shape of a pair of lungs, symbolically uniting a fractured geography as two halves of a vital, oxygen-giving organ. The lungs are activated by the sound of heartbeats. The sound of flowing water cites a seminal work by the artist on the disputed Indus river system between India and Pakistan. Called 2 Degrees (2010), it inaugurated Kallat’s investigations into the ways in which the natural world lies embroiled in geopolitical conflicts engineered by human beings—both through disputes over the sharing of resources and through the symbolic appropriation of species in the service of national narratives.

Installation view, Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai