Earth Angles: Exploring Rohini Devasher’s New Show At The Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum
At least once year, the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum commissions a major Indian artist to produce a site-specific work that reflects on the museum’s collection. Last year, Delhi duo Thukral and Tagra put together a game-filled show inspired by the museum’s collection of playing cards. This year, the designated artist is Delhi’s Rohini Devasher. Her show Speculations from the Field, curated by museum chairperson Tasneem Zakaria Mehta and curatorial associate Himanshu Kadam, ties together video works and prints she has made since 2015 that explore scientific ideas and tools of astronomy belonging to the museum. For instance, one of these objects is the Philips Planisphere, an instrument consisting of two movable discs joined by a pivot used to observe stars.
Devasher’s works are imbued with a sense of mystery, suggesting unknown phenomena in outer space as well as enigmas yet to be unravelled on earth. The video ‘Atmospheres’ takes a cue from images of the Earth taken from space. She inverts the point of view, training her camera towards the sky. The perspective is such that the blue sky seems to be a mirror image of the earth with moving clouds resembling ocean currents. Also in the frame are the tree-like radio telescopes of the Gauribidanur Radio Observatory in Karnataka.
In ‘Terrasphere’, Devasher assumes an extraterrestrial view. A video collage of foliage is projected on to a concave pedestal evoking the idea of a terrarium, the mini ecosystem created when a cluster of plants and soil are enclosed in a glass case. The earth is a complex of thousands of ecosystems, the work seems to suggest.
The video ‘Shivering Sands: Chaos and Coincidences of History’ captures the Maunsell Forts in the UK. These rusty, ungainly structures arising out of the sea were used as forts during the Second World War. After being decommissioned in the 1950s, they were used as pirate radio stations. In the video, parts of which have a sepia tone evoking a bygone era, the forts are filmed from a boat cutting through water. In the distance, the forts look ominous, like giant box cameras on tripods. Closer they appear like abandoned alien carapaces.
Speculations from the Field will be on view until Tuesday, October 4 at the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Rani Baug, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Road, Byculla. Tel: 022 2373 1234. Get directions here. Open Thursday to Tuesday, from 10am to 5.30pm; Wednesday, closed. Tickets for Indians are priced at Rs10 per person for adults and Rs5 per person for children below the age of 13, and tickets for foreigners are priced at Rs100 per person for adults and Rs50 per person for children below the age of 13.