Suggested viewing time: 10 min




Where Are We

Where Are We stages an encounter between public space and social structures through surreal visions that explore the mechanisms of power in everyday lives by conflating personal memory and collective history. Madhu Das collected 60 individual sarees from different families around the village Hiriyur, which were woven together to form a 155 feet long and 25 feet wide quilt which was then hung from the Marikanave Gorge, one of the oldest—initiated in 1855, taking over 10 years to complete—and most capacious man made reservoir in Asia. Documentation of this site-specific, performative gesture examines craft-making in contemporary practice as visual representation of subject-positions, and consequently interpolated into ideological, political and cultural structures of power. Ostensibly, from a distance, the quilt constitutes a colourful intervention, breaking the 1330 feet length of the dam. The detailed patterns of the quilt also refer to the overlooked texture that often comprises the large picture. Das’s emphasis on detail posits a return to sensitivity towards nuance in mainstream discourses on culture. The dam anchors a community that emerged around it as labour for its construction, as the project prompted the rapid migration of over 5000 workers from Kadappa and Kurnool districts of the Madras Presidency, Poona and surrounding districts. By situating the quilt as a composite cultural fabric of the diverse community that emerged around the Marikanave Gorge, on itself, Das calls into question the tension between the legacy of rapid industrialization and fragile existences that are relocated, and pushed to the shadows of the imposing structure.