Whose place? Whose memory? Whose archive?
SN Sujith | Om Soorya | Mahesh Baliga | Vinod Balak
Conceptualized by Om Soorya
Landscapes can be deceptive. Some time a landscape seems to be less a setting for the life of its inhabitants than a curtain behind which struggles achievements and accidents take place. For those who are behind the curtain landmarks are no longer only geographic but also biographical and personal (Berger and Mohr 1967,13)
Geographical features do not define a specificity of a land, on the contrary, its, defined by the cultural and settlement of that particular area. Therefore, the landscape in the contemporary context is not merely a place for backdrop space exploration, but it interprets the social-political environment of the particular time.
Location and landscape are critical tools for both personal and collective memories. As a Canadian historian, Brian Osborne observes: ‘Places are defined by tangible material realities that can be seen, touched, mapped and located’. And for this reason, ‘sense of place, as a component of identity and psychic interiority is a lived embodied felt quality of place that informs practice and is productive of particular expressions of place. Within this context, the idea of landscape is replaced by the term ‘cultural landscape’. However, a cultural landscape not formed by a natural process instead of that it evolved through the human interventions. Human interventions are inclined by the cultural hegemonies of the particular place and time frame.
A physical identity of land is based on the man-made constructions and activities and these symbolic structures are constructed by the dominant cultural practices... Rather, ‘cultural landscapes are looked upon not only as products of human intervention in general but also and in particular as the result of human desire to leave an imprint of control and power. In other words, a landscape is both a text and a context. The meaning of the text invariably depends upon the reader or interpreter. And of course, the records of the land send different messages to different groups of people. In an environment often overwhelmed by the dominant cultural narratives, absorbing the shades of a textual landscape that embraces the histories and stories of all its varied inhabitants over time offers opportunities to access the minor narratives.
The indigenous peoples, the settlers, the farmers, the city dwellers – all are implicit parts of the entire text. The landscape may be a cultural frame for memory but it is also itself a memory text. How it is read and portrayed is depends on the persons doing the reading. The broader the reading, the broader becomes our understanding of the landscape and its many peoples.
“Whose place? Whose memory? Whose archive?” endeavour to share the lived experience of the artists with their own cultural roots? When landscape shares a history it’s important to look at whose history has been shared or memory has been recollected. History and culture of a place is always influenced by the power distribution or the ownership of the particular place. Again, representation of history and culture in the pictorial space is also influenced by the living experience of the artist. Consequently, the history of displaced people or survivors ore deprived groups is hardly represented in the historiography. And this exhibition attempts to relocate and reread the cultural history of the excluded place of time. It also endeavors to the re-map certain unaddressed area of the historiography within the limitation of personal memories. A personal memory is a part of smaller narration and personal memory has never been part of grand narration or mainstream historiography ever. The memory of landscape is not always associated with pleasure. It can also be associated sometimes with a loss, with pain, with social fracture and sense of belonging gone, although the memory remains, albeit poignantly.