Digital and the humane

Digital and the humane – A review of Surekha’s “Unclaimed and other urban F(r)ictions” – For Art and Deal Magazine

Bangalore, new it may be, yet it has in itself a soul. This is through the varied inherent qualities of the city, various people who intertwine their daily activities, occupations, into this mega web of cultures, combining to generate a unique language of its own. Layering the parallel existence of the IT is the humane which survives through the grayness and struggles through the pace. This core, like veins of this city is what Surekha captures, and with ardour in her videos in “Unclaimed and other urban F(r)ictions”.

Men who involve themselves in the burial of unclaimed bodies, an act which is left unsung, surfaces in Surekha’s videos along with morning laugh therapies in “Romeos and Juliets”. A woman who has made the park her home and a man who generates jobs for economically unsteady Muslim women. Finding humour in these discrepancies, projecting it with a robust gusto, a combination of the odds, an amalgamation of a variety of unsung heroes juxtaposed with the computer era, leads Surekha from her domestic violence ridden works in “Communing with Urban Heroins” into the domain of the city and its urban atrocities. She moves with ease from women walking the skies to the bulldozed walls of Bangalore, addressing other issues which have left the city shaking. Simplicity and humour reign through these videos that present the unavoidable starkness of a city in progress, which when dissected is digressed and this shoddy lifestyle is captured and retold with ease.

Reflections” consumes the viewer by the continuous images of broken and bulldozed walls, which in the name of development or progress have left the foundation of the very city in shackles. Tarnished and tainted, these walls, along side the digital- or the ever growing need for change and fast paced lifestyles, without time for the intermediate. These walls induce the essence of nostalgia, of days gone by, which are left broken and staggering with the pace of the accelerating new age.

Not all towers fall” a direct attack at the twin towers and its bloodshed, causing the effect through the images of all the monuments in the world still not only standing the test of time but also standing through years of carnage and attacks, this through well timed humour.

An Empty Bench” The stone benches of Bangalore, which have been an inseparable part of the heart of the city, now only found in parks became a subject in Surekha’s video.  Where an old woman has taken shelter in the park for thirty years now. These benches witness these old people who without company use these benches for companionship.

These videos are the products of continuous interaction and dialogue with these people who swam against the tide, or even brought warmth of simple humanity amidst the rigidness of IT and the dry vigour of the urbane.

Surekha’s choice to place these videos amidst a heap of computer wastes, a wall pasted with keyboards and a room hoarded with plenty of monitors speaks for the times we live in. The castaways within the digital community itself, the recycling of the obsolete, a never ending circle of progression like in the circle of life.  The installation projects the idea where a product even before launched has the ability to become obsolete, knowledge and skill are thus treated too.

The digital has consumed us and the humane is left moss ridden. As the title suggests this work is the saga of an urbane fixture, development construed by ignorance, intrepid individuals and communities upholding ideals which if not would have diluted and died down. Thus resonating the hope for the generations to come who if not for these residues would live a virtual life.

Hope versus destruction, the warmth of people against the cold of the machines, progress and deluded aggression as opposed to simple set of activities, this split, this friction is what is portrayed and well in Surekha’s installation.

Parinitha Konanur

Published Article – In the Magazine “Art and Deal”

A Review of the show -“Unclaimed and other urban F(r)ictions”

By the Bangalore based artist ‘Surekha’