Verso-Recto-Recto-Verso, 2017-2019

Installation View, 13TH Havana Biennial, Cuba

tied and dyed silk
Dimension variable

The large scale installation titled, Verso-Recto-Recto-Verso comprises of textual scrolls rendered using the tie-and dye-process. The scrolls present the preambles to the constitutions of countries politically partitioned or in conflict. These are the constitutions of India and Pakistan, US and Cuba, Sudan and South Sudan, Bangladesh and India, North and South Korea adopted by their citizens as a promise to themselves in creating nations where justice, liberty, equality and fraternity would prevail. While the texts in English are reproduced as fragmented dot patterns, revealed in reverse against cloth dyed blue-black by artisans in the town of Bhuj in the Indian border state of Gujarat, in between the lines, words morph from the Roman alphabet to ‘Braille’ rendered as yellow dots. The artist replaces words common to both preambles with those written in braille, making the text illegible to both the sighted and the blind. Using the metaphor of blindness, the inscrutability of the renderings also suggests a collective amnesia, resulting in a failure to understand and fight for the common values upon which these nations were first constituted.
Reena has revisited the preamble of the Indian constitution in multiple works from 2003. In the video Synapse (2011) the preamble was rendered as letters of a Snellen chart used by opthalmologists to measure vision and read out slowly by patients undergoing eye tests; their hesitation metaphorically demonstrating an ordinary citizens myopia and blurred view of the most inclusive document of the nation.