B M Kamath(Manjunath Kamath)'s Interviews
What kind of work are you showcasing in this exhibition (are they paintings/sculptures...what mediums have you used? etc.)
In this show I am exhibiting one installation with a video and two large paper works. The installation is made up of individually drawn ‘eyes’ on paper and these are pasted on to the wall. A video monitor is kept on a red cushion, and it plays the image of thousand eyes individually shot and put it in a loop.
This installation in a sense talks about the contemporary society, whether it is traditionally rooted or cosmopolitan in outlook, where surveillance is a reality. The big powers are watching over the citizens. Thanks to mutual surveillance the public-private divide is collapsed. Any private space becomes a public space thanks to technological intrusion. The work is about the power politics existing in a society.
Though, I talk about the power relationship in a society through this work, my initial concern with it started off as an interest in ‘eyes’ depicted in religious icons. During my last visit in Thailand, Combodia and Korea made me aware of the presence of eyes as depicted in the Buddhist icons. It inspired me to see how eyes become a thing of focus in all the religious practices including those in India. My researches took me to various pictorial depictions of eyes in Buddhist icons. Slowly it grew to gain multiple dimensions.
The employment of video in this installation comes from my genuine interest for video art. I have been doing video art for the last twelve years (even before India woke up to the reality of video art) and I am interested in claymation (clay animation) videos. I have widely exhibited my videos all over the world.
Besides this installation I am presenting two large paper works. The medium used is water colour and a small bit of collage. The alluring golden color in these paintings connotes to the society’s interest for spectacles. In these paintings I have used mundane objects that have some kind of historical connections when seen from a different perspective. I have always used humorous motifs in my works to put across ideas.
- What message are you trying to get through to the audience?
Art, I believe is an autonomous entity. It speaks from and through itself. And art is not a thing to solve any social problems. However, I strongly believe that art could flag out certain issues in the society and make diversified discourses on that, using visual images as an effective medium. For me medium itself is the message. My works are simple enough to be understood by any person who walks into the gallery.
- Do you think the Thai and Indian culture are similar?
- Do you think there are still some (negative) stereotypes associated with both of the cultures? Like Thais thinking of Indians in a certain way and vice versa? If so, what are some?
There is a strong cultural affinity between these two countries namely India and Thailand. Our epics and myths are more or less the same. The interesting part is that the epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata and all are interpreted and presented in such ways that suits to the context of its existence. Even in the pictorial depiction of the scenes from these epics, one would see the anthropological differences though they are dealing with the same stories.
Buddhism is another strong point of connection between India and Thailand. India is the place of origin for Buddhism. Though now it is a minority religion in India, it has crossed the seas and mountains to become the dominant religion of the places like Thailand. The myths and iconography share a lot of things between India and Thailand. I have also noticed interesting parallels and convergence between the performing arts of India and Thailand. The choreographed movement, dressing patterns and even the narratives are at times look mutually inspired.
I am not aware of any negative picture of Thailand. Thailand has a flourishing tourism industry and many Indians come here to spend their vacations. Actually this is another way of cross-cultural exchange. I don’t think anybody keeps any negative image about Thailand in India.
- What do you think exhibitions like these do for society as a whole?
This exhibition thematically looks for parallels and affinities between two cultures. It is an interesting curatorial attempt as well as creative attempt by both the curators and artists to see how we are culturally intertwined populations. Any society that is keen on culture will have certain finer aspects that prevent the society from self destruction. I think any art project is good in this way. The more people see art, the more they become aware of the finer side of human life and philosophy.