Seven Faces of Dust, 2003

Installation view, Henie Onstad Kultursenter, Oslo, Norway

Seven Faces of Dust
sand, pigment, wax, bamboo boats, cloth, fiberglass sculptures, photographs dimensions variable

When I began conceptualizing this work, I was thinking of the seven islands that originally made up the island city of Bombay. The constellation of the seven floor drawings are made using sand (a residue of degraded materials, derived from the wearing down of rocks). The act of laying the sand while executing the work, resembled that of making rangolis. Like the rangoli, this work will be effaced at the end of the exhibition. It is made to commemorate ‘the individual’s wish’ in a city that is inhabited by large numbers of anonymous people.

Cities as we know get defined and shaped by people as extensions of their needs, aspirations, desires and fears. The seven islands can be seen as points of convergence where people from several communities are drawn everyday and get absorbed and assimilated. The uterus islands are looked upon as sites for the symbolic cross fertilization of wishes. As I went along making the work, I wanted it to be less about the city in a physical sense as it were and attempted to seek the immense complexity of real places in essence. However, this map is ephemeral and subject to constant change, like the changing face of the city of Mumbai. It does not provide the full and definitive picture; it speaks its own destiny of transformation, its ultimate formlessness.

The accompanying sculptural assemblage with seven pairs of hands hold out wax houses in a gesture of offering, while the series of photographs with people seen inscribing messages onto a variety of offering-candles attempts to metaphorically map their wishes.

Seven Faces Of Dust is a reminder of the silenced impulses, secret hopes and latent desires of people that may perhaps never be heard.