A fluorescent-pink hose angles up to the ceiling only to fall back to the floor, slumping into an awkward pile. This item—Frustrated gardener, 2017—is placed opposite a two-legged terra-cotta horse pressed between two sheets of museum glass. As the title explains, it is busy Performing under pressure in the museum of broken objects, 2018. Shreyas Karle’s exhibition “Unnecessary alcove” is a museological display stripped of embellishments. The titles of the works are revealing, and if you read them quickly in sequence you end up with a verse full of hot anxiety and flat aspiration: Gap by the
Skye Arundhati Thomas
In Earth as Heaven: Under the Canopy of Love (all works cited, 2017), an installation in the rotunda of the museum’s top floor, artist Jayashree Chakravarty has visitors walk through a large, fleshy cocoon. The materials she has assembled reveal themselves along the sculpture’s interior terrain: tea and tobacco leaves, roots, stems, insects with intact wings, handmade Nepali and Chinese papers, powders of dried leaves, plastic beads, clay, and discarded scraps of cloth. Outside the cave-like sculpture, large collages of similar material line the walls, unfurling from ceiling to floor.
The latest in the museum’s series of exhibitions intended to stoke dialogue between contemporary artists and the institution’s archive begins with a large freestanding curved painting, titled Notes on Labour, 2017, installed in the foyer. The twisted figures in the composition lurch into a void. Perhaps this speaks to the show’s premise—for history to meet with the present, one must accept a certain degree of freewheeling association. The absurdity here is in the juxtaposition: The lavishly refurbished colonial interiors of the museum house Praneet Soi’s investigations into the labor processes