"Phenomenology of Perception": Exhibit 320

By Menezes, Meera | Artforum International, November 2015 | Go to article overview

"Phenomenology of Perception": Exhibit 320


Menezes, Meera, Artforum International


"Phenomenology of Perception"

EXHIBIT 320

The thread was as taut as a tightrope, showing no hint of a quiver as it wound itself past two nails and turned a corner. Not even its shadowy doppelganger dared heave. Elsewhere, a fine crack in the wall practiced to deceive. On closer examination, it revealed itself as a thread, blending in, chameleonlike, with its surroundings. It strung onlookers along, leading them to one of Parul Gupta's photographs. Then, as if by magic, it seemed to pop up briefly within the frame, only to vanish again.

These spatial drawings reflect Gupta's keen interest in observing what transpires when a line transcends the boundaries of a sheet of paper and continues its journey in space. Works from the Delhi-based artist's series "Extending the Line, "2013-, were on view as one of three solo presentations put together by curator Meenakshi Thirukode in an exhibition of South Asian women artists under the umbrella title "Phenomenology of Perception." Rounding out the trio were Nurjahan Akhlaq from Pakistan and Bangladeshi Yasmin Jahan Nupur. In juxtaposing these three artists, Thirukode underlined their common concern with the link between drawing or collage and architectural spaces through abstraction and Minimalism.

The title of the show is taken from the 1945 book by French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty, in which he dwelt on the foundational role perception plays in understanding and engaging with the world, and the body's centrality to this encounter. We find a phenomenological bent in all three artists' work. Gupta experiments with movements of the body in relation to architectural spaces; her work evinces a preoccupation with the ways in which, as she puts it, "we perceive the environment we inhabit and what happens when a subtle shift is made in things which we have been used to see in a certain way. Does that subtle shift make us question our knowledge or our knowing, and how? …

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