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TALKING THE WALK

Jasmeen Patheja's photographs seek to tell us about all that she saw during her walks in various parts of the world



One of Jasmeen's works

When I rest my feet, my mind also ceases to function.

J.G. Hamann

"WHILE WALKING, we are inundated with visual images. And every step taken is not only of part of a physical activity but a visual journey as well." This is the basic premise on which Jasmeen Patheja, a young Fine Arts graduate from the Srishti School of Art, works. The exhibition titled 2 Feet Apart, currently on at the Alliance Francaise de Bangalore, is a photographic installation that seeks to recreate Jasmeen's experiences on her walks in India, France, Spain, Italy, and Scotland, over a three-year period.

"The display seeks to recreate the walk by creating zones of comfort, discomfort through visual bombardment, silence, and lighting techniques," says the photographer. "Taken in a different time and space the images are placed together to create shock, surprise, flow, noise, disharmony, isolation, all of which relate to the walking experience."

As the viewer enters the elegantly set up installation zone, s/he finds that Jasmeen's photographic images are filled with people, streets, show windows, mannequins, dolls, bus stands, and so on. A street performer in colourful attire is seen with her hands on her hips at Barcelona. Three lifeless mannequins stare ahead as the petty shop owner smiles shyly in Ahmedabad. A set of Barbie dolls has a young and curious onlooker in another picture. Well-lit Oxford Street at London shows people in front of a store which has a rather punchy inscription: Expensive! In Spain, the close up shot of a vegetable crate tells you what it is all about: Patata Mona Lisa 0'69k. At Lester, a group of people laze around in a park listening to an outdoor music concert. In Barcelona, Jasmeen's camera not only beholds a popcorn shop, but also a set of broken mannequins and dolls lying at a shop window. In an Indian home, a group of women are busy beautifying themselves — their facial masks unable to hide their happiness.

Seen individually, these appear as random — sometimes, casual — shots. Collectively, they seek to communicate a deeper, if abstract, idea. The way they are installed — image by image — the photographs literally surround, engulf, and cajole the viewer into a silent conversation. One does appreciate the finesse and subtlety of the experiment, although the depth of experience might not linger too long.

(2 Feet Apart closes on June 11.)

ATHREYA

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