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A view from the outside

Four artists, not originally Goan but have made the land their home and the genius-station, are exhibiting their work at The Cube Gallery in Moria from November 30 at a show aptly titled ‘Outsiders’. NT BUZZ finds out more about the exhibition.

Janice Savina Rodrigues|NT BUZZ

The word outsider is often used as a derogatory term, especially in a place like Goa. This could be because the Goan population has been a rather close knit one and they would earlier see any outside influence as a threat. With changing times and the metropolitan culture setting in, this disparity has rather reduced, though it is difficult to rid of the norm entirely.

This is what the latest exhibition at The Cube gallery in Moira is trying to explore. The exhibition has works of four artists who have different mediums, different ideas and different artistic inclinations, but they also have one thing in common – they are what people call outsiders.

Sonia Weder, Sonny Singh, Alok Johri and Thomas Louis have been brought together by curator Samira Sheth. These four artists have tried to expound over the idea of being an outsider through this exhibition. “The exhibition has four artists, four energies, four ways of looking at the world! The artists include contemporary visual artist Sonja Weder, Thomas Louis, Sonny Singh and Alok Johri who come from places as diverse as Switzerland, Kerala, Los Angeles and Lucknow. Each one has a noted individual art practice ranging from painting to ceramics to installation. What binds them however is that they all came to Goa – to live, work, create and just ‘be’ here,” says Samira.

The visual arts show has on exhibit installations, paintings, ceramics and assemblage. Alok Johri when asked the reason he chose to relocate to Goa, he replied: “Because you’ll meet the world in Goa.”

Samira adds that this is what makes Goa special, through all its influences from various people who have lived here. “The world does come to Goa. It has absorbed the many influences brought to its shores by the Portuguese, powerful dynasties, monks and missionaries, and in recent times, the hippies, each of whom have contributed to shaping Goa’s psychological, social, cultural and aesthetic landscape and making it into a lively melting pot of local and foreign confluence while it retains its own strong distinct cultural identity,” she says. This mix makes it fertile ground for creative stories to emerge; and this is what has come out perfectly in the works of the artists.

The exhibition presents the stories of the artists finding their fulfilment through different modes of expression. Goa means different things to all of them, shaping their aesthetic journeys in distinct ways, new ideas, conversations and directions. “The show celebrates the creativity and diverse perspectives of these ‘outsiders’ forging their own paths of artistic self-discovery,” says Samira.

Swiss designer and artist Sonja Weder’s work is made in Goa and very literally made of Goa as she explores materials made from the earth’s elements. With a lacquer technique of her own invention, Sonja embeds and preserves leaves, twigs, seeds and various natural materials in polyurethane, creating a range of unique furniture, lights and objet d’arts. In her paintings, she is inspired by Goa’s history and heritage and takes on the task of replicating the feel of old walls of abandoned homes we see throughout the state.

Installation artist Sonny Singh, also the co-founder of The Cube, lived and worked in LA before moving to Goa. He employs visual markers like aircraft and bombs to bring home themes of divisiveness, alienation and conflict within segments that pit themselves against each other in insular groups. He places a colossal winged figure, the Trojan Rath, outside the gallery to stun viewers into dissolving the superficial segmentation of society into social, geographical, casteist, religious and other groups. “His work seeks to connect humanity into a united group of ‘insiders’ to combat the larger problems facing all of us, concentrated in the figure of the angel ‘outsider’,” says Samira.

About his installations, Sonny says, “The main purpose of my installations is to provoke dialogue; to deconstruct the notion of the ‘outsider’ which creates too many sub-groups… Instead, if we consider all of us as human ‘insiders’ we could deal with important problems that face us as a race together instead of all being split up.”

The ceramicist, sculptor and painter Thomas Louis, feels that Goa means collaboration. His successful design studio Banana Pottery has become a hub for the state’s creative people. “Thomas’s deeply elemental work includes beautiful objects and pieces laced with political irony including a series on politician puppets, seed and flower bombs, all in stoneware. Inspired by Goa’s vibrant live music scene he has modified the African Udu drum to create his own percussion instrument in clay together with some musician friends. The unique aspect of this instrument is that it has to be played by people together to create music,” says Samira. Thomas says his work expounds the sense of community that is prevalent in Goa. “The idea behind it is to bring in a sense of community and togetherness. To more music and happiness, tolerance and compassion, thank you Goa for taking me in,” he says.

Photographer and visual artist Alok Johri came to Goa seeking solitude and contrastingly to also meet the world in Goa. His series acrylics on canvas chronicle his personal journey. His visual vocabulary reflects his deep spiritual search to find resolution and peace, and live in awareness. “These poetic images are evocative of home, nostalgia, memory, belonging and the unchanging truth that life moves on, even as some things don’t change and remain part of your nature wherever you happen to go,” says Samira.

Each artist comes from a different place and yet calls Goa home. Each one has an individual artistic idiom, emerging from personal experience and recognised as distinct. Samira says: “We live in times of unprecedented global mobility. People are increasingly on the move – migrating, travelling, exploring new countries and cultures. Art can transcend boundaries and spark fresh perspectives. And while this show brings up important ideas of home and belonging, what is indigenous and what is foreign, it also marks a universal truth – that no matter where we’re from or happen to live, each one of us, at some point, is an outsider somewhere.”


(The exhibition ‘Outsiders’ will held at The Cube Gallery, Moira from November 30 till January 5, 2018)


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