Saline, 2007

Installation view, Primo Marella Gallery, Milan

bonded marble, wood, fabric
13 ft I 156 in. diameter

The work takes off from an episode in the Hindu Puranas (religious text) called Samudra Manthan. Samudra means ‘the ocean’ and Manthan means ‘to churn’. In this particular episode, the Gods lose their powers due to an instance of arrogance and need the assistance of demons in order to churn the ocean to obtain nectar that would empower them again. A number of herbs were cast into the ocean and the churning produced several objects and beings that were symbolic and served as offerings to please demi-gods. It is believed that to keep the nectar away from the hands of the demons, the gods had to hide it in four different places on earth. These places are since believed to have acquired mystical power and are celebrated as sites of worship.

SALINE re-constructs imagery from the myths of the past as well as their re-incarnations in the historical present. The formation of the demon is a sculptural translation of drawings from the Razmnama (illustrated translations of the Hindu epic, Mahabharat into Persian). Artistically speaking, this demon form rendered by Persian illustrators of a Hindu endeavor becomes an interesting secular by-product of the religious cross-pollination of the Hindu epic in the Islamic world. Water has always been seen as the source of all creation. Just like salt is easily missible in water, India is traditionally eulogised for its secular fabric wherein the boundaries of Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and several other religious traditions are said to dissolve. I have set out to make the sculptural installation ‘Saline’ at a time when this fabric is stained by the recurrence of communal conflict.

I see ‘Saline’ as a call of hope; the fluid figment of my imagination churned out of contemporary conflicts to symbolically drop nectar in a poisonous ocean, reclaim the spaces of religious worship from the demons of fanaticism and intravenously inject organisms with the rejuvenating and hydrating powers of saline in the endless confrontation between good and evil.


Acknowledgement: Sadashiv Kuncolienker