Critics’ Picks

Tara Kelton, Brittany, 2019, oil on linen, 13 x 10"

Tara Kelton, Brittany, 2019, oil on linen, 13 x 10"


Tara Kelton

Mumbai Art Room
4th Pasta Lane, Colaba Pipewala Building
January 9–February 26, 2020

Tara Kelton’s Brittany in the Pool, 2020, features a blown-up image of Brittany Kaiser, who helped blow the whistle on the Cambridge Analytica data breach,  hidden in plain sight on the gallery’s multi-panelled aluminium sliding doors. Her face disappears behind one of the metal partitions, the polyptych dominated by the blue water in which she luxuriates. An eponymous oil painting of Kaiser’s face hangs on the opposite wall, as though the use of “traditional” painterly technology could render her more real.

In the case of the “Guided Tours” films, 2014–, the physical presence of camerapersons taking photographs for Google Street View—a common phenomenon in South Asia—allows Kelton to map digital representations of heritage sites onto actual bodies. To make The River by DisneyHuntress, 2019, the artist repurposed another user’s content from the social virtual reality platform Sansar. Screened on an iPhone, the appropriated animation is overlaid with an eerie soundtrack and depicts a female character painting the landscape in front of her. Harking back to the en plein air tradition, the work plays with the tension between material reality and computerised artifice that often frames twenty-first century life. 

Black Box, 2018, represents the fantasies Bangalore’s Uber drivers have about the corporation they work for through two prints of images created digitally by local photo studios: Corinthian pillars next to a suited CEO at his desk; an Uber levitating inside a cylindrical container above a forest with robots. The kitschy, early internet aesthetic at times negates the gap between figure and ground, a “flattening” reminiscent of the collapse of political possibilities that occurs when workers are managed by algorithms.