new-delhi

Vivan Sundaram, 12 Bed Ward (detail), 2005, steel, shoe soles, string, wire, lightbulbs, dimensions variable.

Vivan Sundaram

Kiran Nadar Museum of Art

Vivan Sundaram, 12 Bed Ward (detail), 2005, steel, shoe soles, string, wire, lightbulbs, dimensions variable.

A crashing of waves precedes the grinding of machinery. Searchlights flash and sirens wail. Soon other sounds rend the air: sailors’ ditties mixed with the staccato beat of Morse code and chants of “Kill the British” and “Quit India.” Staged within the interior of a gigantic ship-like structure fashioned by Vivan Sundaram, this forty-two-minute, eight-channel sound piece by artist David Chapman (made in collaboration with cultural theorist Ashish Rajadhyaksha and film historian Valentina Vitali) creates a gripping immersive experience. Staged in the interior of Meanings of Failed Action: Insurrection 1946, 2017, it is composed of recordings sourced from Indian and British archives, spliced together with more recently recorded speech and poetry. The sound work sketches a little-known incident in India’s colonial past, the Bombay Mutiny: In 1946, on the cusp of India’s independence

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