The proposed show, The Theatre of Absorption intends to be on the self-portraits of living artists in India, both senior and the relatively younger, or mid-career artists. Often hailed as tireless examiners of self, artists have consistently taken self-portraits as a medium of creative interrogation. Much of it is or seemed to be about exploring the problems of interiority, issues related to introspection and narrations of self, but it is also about mediating the conflicting interpretations of our world which acts upon the artists in various ways enabling or compelling them to create dense meta-fictions that play around with the conventional perceptions of truth and falsehood.
From striking images of self-conscious postures to lucid glimpses into their more absorbed everyday moments, artists have used the shifting language of the gestural to make arresting statements on the contradictions of subjectivity. Now as the gestural is increasingly absorbed by the iconography of instantaneous self-display in a globally networked technology, the usual division between the public and the private, between self-absorption and self-posture, is confounded in unforeseen ways. Especially social media networks like Facebook and Instagram have made it difficult to tell the truth about people and things. In this context, we may assume that like many other genres of images, self-portraits are also subject to incessant forms of manipulation and staging that surreptitiously play with the attitudes of the more experienced and unsuspecting viewers alike. As if the genre has metamorphosed into a ‘theatre of absorption’ where various realities and narratives collide to create a startling range of historical and temporal constellations. We may as well ask: What do these self-portraits do besides being just images that carry, if not anything else a semblance of truth? What are the different ways of understanding and addressing them in their unrestricted social media circulations in the garb of useful fictions?
This show intends to bring these issues to the fore by giving the artists the freedom to explore and narrate their own trajectories of self-hood the way they see fit.
Dr. Kallol Roy