dhak dhak ho-hum ah eekff iii ie An exhibition by Hillside Projects, Arijit Bhattacharyya and Julia

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Fee l retu free to rn m e

Hillside Projects, Arijit Bhattacharyya, Julia Schuster

11.6–14.8 2022 @rodastenkonsthall rodastenkonsthall.se

dhak dhak ho-hum ah eekff iii ie

June 11—August 14 2022 Curator Amila Puzić & Mia Christersdotter Norman Röda Sten Konsthall

For the summer exhibition, Röda Sten Konsthall introduces three different artistic practices with the sound-mimicking title dhak dhak ho-hum ah eekff iii ie. The exhibition presents a series of new works created in dialogue between the artists Arijit Bhattacharyya, Julia Schuster, and the artist collective Hillside Projects. The works on display have been created specifically for the exhibition space, with a focus on the artists’ shared interest in questions of transformation, movement, and evolution. The exhibition weaves together different notions of spatial and temporal transformations, circulations of ideas, and movements of bodies.

Bhattacharyya asks questions about power and the oppression of people in the world’s biggest democracy, India. He also touches upon burning issues: how the idea of the Indian nation has been shaped by both the Hindu right-wing extremist government and by resistance movements. Transformation of societies and movements are thus forever intertwined.

Visions and beliefs form the basis of all communities in the world. Communities and societies are built on ideas, and regardless of whether they are religious, political, or social they have all been moving humanity to this specific point in time. In many languages the word “movement” is an expression for communities of people with common beliefs. Movements.

The sound of Indian vultures ripping the flesh off a carcass is the core element in Hillside Project´s sound installation The Wake. The work consists of both spatial and sound elements created in collaboration with artist Jonas Holmer. The sound represents the feasting of feeding vultures. The act of which has turned these birds into mythical and stigmatised creatures linking life and death, and whose role in the life cycle cannot be underrated.

Arijit Bhattacharyya´s monumental work Silence consists of paintings on the traditional Indian and Bengali handwoven straw sleeping mats Madurkathi. It is a part of his larger project My screams are silent in your dreams, developed in collaboration with Indian artisans and artists.

Movement is also the constant force of life cycles – from birth to death, from death to life – a complex communion between all living things. These given premises of life are not debatable, but nevertheless under attack.

In the work Reek eek mmm rk rotten, the sounds of vultures are transcribed on the church-like windows in the exhibition room the Cathedral. The title of the exhibition dhak dhak ho-hum ah

The project Geology of the Body and Land by Julia Schuster is a poetic artwork made of three monumental clay installations and a text piece. The clay installations are made of hundreds of smaller clay pieces created specifically for the exhibition space – making use of its natural lighting and seaview. Geology of the Body and Land comes from the artist´s interest in childbirth and her ongoing doula training. Each of the three clay installations are inspired by different layers of the pelvic floor, central to both our posture and the birthing process. The pelvic floor is the place where new life passes in the transformation from one state of being to another. In the artworks of the exhibition, ideas are linked together, streams of thought lead from one work to another, connections are created as well as broken. There are countless ideas that can make people move towards shared or conflicting goals. It remains to be seen in which direction humankind is moving at this specific point in time. What ideas guide your path, your movement forward?

Mia Christerdotter Norman, director of Röda Sten Konsthall

Reek eek mmm rk rotten, The Wake ,Hillside Projects & Jonas Holmer 2022. Foto Elin Lijeblad

eekff iii ie was also taken from this work. Here, sounds from vultures eating, such as “eekff iii ie”, are mixed with established sound-mimicking words such as “crash”, or “ho-hum” an expression of despair and boredom in Hindi. “Dhak dhak” is mostly used to imitate the sound of a heartbeat in the Marathi language spoken in an Indian region where vultures are common.


A Meadow for Heartache

2021 Video installation with fabric HD video 16:9, colour, 46 min.

2022 Egg oil tempera paint with plant pigments and essential oils, sandbags with dried plants and sign in aluminium and wood

Commissioned by Das Esszimmer ¬– Raum für Kunst Bonn

Commissioned by Röda Sten Konsthall

Reading, to Kins is a performance for the dead. Painful swelling, inflammation and kidney failure. Millions of vultures in India have died this way. Unintentionally poisoned with Diclofenac, a painkiller used by farmers to keep cattle working harder and longer, and to increase milk production.

A Meadow for Heartache is a monochromatic painting of a flowering meadow with an accompanying sign and sandbags. The meadow painting is made with egg oil tempera mixed with natural pigments and essential oils extracted from a selection of medicinal plants claimed to be beneficial for heartache. The plants included are valerian root, rosemary, catechu, poppy, rhubarb root, hawthorn, lavender, rose petal, turmeric, and motherwort. The properties of these plants are said to be calming for the nerves and may install a sense of tranquillity. This specific concoction could potentially serve as an aid in living a prosperous life.

Compared to the 1980s, India’s vulture population has decreased by 95%, leaving an ecological void impossible to fill. Reading, to Kins was performed within the Indian vulture collection at The Alexander Koenig Zoological Research Museum in Bonn (DE). With the intention of including the vultures in the conversation about their demise and the ongoings on their land, the article We Are Witnessing a Crime Against Humanity by Arundhati Roy was read to a committee of taxidermied vultures. Roy’s text speaks of the political situation and the Covid pandemic in India during the spring of 2021.

Egg oil tempera has been used since ancient times and was very popular in medieval and renaissance painting. The paint is non-toxic and includes egg, linseed oil and pigments. The mixture of pigments determines the colour of the paint and, in this case, the colour of the flowering “meadow”. The sign accompanying the meadow painting is infused with essential oils from the same medicinal plants, and the sandbags holding the sign in place are filled with dried plants. Video still från Att läsa, till fränder, 2021

Translation of Arundhati Roy’s text from English to Swedish: Anna Tebelius Videographer: Robin Deutschbein Edit: Hillside Projects Sound: Jonas Holmer

Again and Again We Ask These Questions 2019–2022 Installation with video and newsprint paper HD-video 16:9, colour, 7 min. 28 sec.

Again and Again We Ask These Questions considers all species, cultures, and lifeways that are no longer in existence or are being driven towards extinction. It commemorates and reaches out to those lost and those threatened. A performer repeatedly reads a collection of questions and short statements. The texts are of existential nature and printed on newsprint. The newsprint will, over time, turn yellow, and the ink will fade. The texts read by the performer are also committedly pasted to the walls and floors in the exhibition space. The arrangement of the performative reading, together with a synthetic organ soundscape and the paper pasted walls, forms the narrative driver of the work. Again and Again We Ask These Questions speaks of an attempt to figure something out, of dedicatedly trying to make sense of that which is lost. Direction & script: Hillside Projects Videographer: Giorgos Chloros Sound: Jonas Holmer Music: Jonas Holmer & Hillside Projects Distributed by: FilmForm – The Art Film & Video Archive and Vidéograph Montréal

The Magician and the Cauldron 2022 Pigment print on archival paper and painted wall Eight frames, each 137 cm x 27 cm

The Magician and the Cauldron consist of eight narratives that begin with “Magician” and end with “death”. Each narrative includes the same 19 words, but their compositions differ. The 19 words have been selected from Arundhati Roy’s text, We Are Witnessing a Crime Against Humanity, through an experimental process of reading, distilling, tracing, and repeating Roy’s words. The eight texts hang on a painted backdrop that

hints at a stage drape. Perhaps a stage for a magician, and where each narrative becomes a scene within a larger story. Reek eek mmm rk rotten 2022 Vinyl on windows, 18 panels each, 150.5 cm x 85 cm and 3 panels, each 142 cm x 76.5 cm

The Wake 2022 Hillside Projects & Jonas Holmer 9-channel sound installation, 40 min. loop Commissioned by Röda Sten Konsthall

Vultures are purifiers. They are disposers of the dead and eat what others cannot. Vultures and humans have a long record of living in symbiosis. Vultures are scavengers, and consume carcasses before they decay, quickly removing bacteria and other poisons from spreading. Vultures are the environment’s unsung heroes. Reek eek mmm rk rotten and The Wake are two joined installations about the poetics of being eaten. Nine speakers, placed in an organic shape, play the sound of feeding vultures, sounds collected from Youtube and sound banks. Using an equaliser, the sounds have been amplified to create a musical scale based on the harmonic series in Indian raga music. Each speaker plays a different harmony, low or high, and is experienced as a fragment or a whole depending on where the viewer stands. The arrangement of the speakers imitates “a wake of vultures”, referring to a group of vultures feeding, thus its title, The Wake. Reek eek mmm rk rotten is a text work that onomatopoetically1 narrates a feast on the dead. Created specifically for the space referred to as the Cathedral at Röda Sten Konsthall, it references stained glass church windows and aims to enhance the beauty of the space and the narrative being told. Reek eek mmm rk rotten was written through actively listening and transcribing a more than humans’ feast. It is also a consideration of an alternative death care service2 and the ecological cycle of being eaten and eating.

Texts by Hillside Projects


away by armed forces. In the background, there is a heap of books

My Screams are Silent in Your Dreams

burning. A group of women are seen witnessing this gruesome action. On the other side of the painting is a collective body formed out of limbs carrying a banner. The banner consists of three words “We The People”, the same first three words from the preamble of the Indian constitution.


Our dreams do not include the people who are not desired in our reality. If we have unwanted people in our dreams those dreams are mostly noted as nightmares. Our dreams are the conscious choice of our subconscious for a make-believe reality. Postcolonial Nations in their inception are dreams against oppression, othering, seclusion, deception and brutality.

My Screams are Silent in Your Dreams is a project about silent screams. The project is divided into four major works. These works are, Silence, Screams and Dreams, The Ghost of a Protest, and How political is (y)our curry? Silence 2022 Arijit Bhattacharyya in collaboration with Suvojit Roy, Santanu Dey, Shibyan Halder, Soumik Ghosh, Suvankar Halder, Akhil Jana, Nilima Parda, Janardan Jana, Kabita Jana, Manaka Jana, Chandrakanta Jana, Dulu Parda, Rita Jana, Susama Kar, Kalipada Kar, Lakshmi Kar and Biswanath Mallick. Madurkathi and plastisol ink 990 cm x 353 cm Commissioned by Röda Sten Konsthall

Silence is a largescale continuous narrative painted on both sides of five Madurkathis. On one side of the painting, a dead body is being carried

Foto: Arijit Bhattacharyya.Tack till Soumik Ghosh.

Though with every passing day, the world’s biggest democracy India is being broken down by the dreams of people in power. People who are trying their best to not succumb to the injuries caused by this extremely divisive political atmosphere are screaming for empathy, solidarity and most importantly help. Though their, our, my screams are silent in the dreams dreamt by the ones who are restructuring the fabric of the world’s biggest democracy.

Madurkathi is an old traditional craft, centred in the Bengal region (India and Bangladesh) and is an integral part of the rural economy and its social fabric. These mats have evolved as a climatic response to the regions long, extremely hot and humid summers. It is an essential item to sleep on during the summer as these mats do not conduct heat and are sweat absorbent. The paintings are done in Madurkathis as an act of registering contrasting actions in between the people governing and the people governed.

Screams and Dreams 2022 Arijit Bhattacharyya in collaboration with Safoora Zargar, Binita Limbani, Owanka Bhattacharjee, Suchandra Kundu,Chapola Biswas, Sabita Das, Pintu Halder, Prasun Moule, Kunal Pramanik, Braja Sankar Gorai, Sanat Rupray, Prnay Moule, Soumik Ghosh, Suvojit Roy, Shibayan Halder and Swagata Bhattacharyya Video 1h 30 min. Sculpture made of Khadi, lizzy bizzy, zari, nylon, aluminium alloy, terracotta, galvanized iron wire, coloured plastic petals. Size variable Inkjet print on fabric 365 cm x 243 cm Commissioned by Röda Sten Konsthall

Screams and Dreams is a trilogy of poly-perspective nature. The work locates itself around the arrest of activist and academic Safoora Zargar by the Delhi police. She is charged under the draconian colonial law, Unlawful Activities (Prevention)3 Act. During her time spent in police custody at the infamous Tihar Jail from 10th April to 24th June 2020, Safoora was pregnant. Later on 24th June 2020, she was released (on bail) on humanitarian grounds. The work consists of a video, which is a conversation between Safoora Zargar and Arijit Bhattacharyya. This conversation touches on the ideas of nation, resistance and Hindu right-wing government moulding the values of India as a nation. Based on the conversation with Safoora, the work shapes itself as an article of transformable clothing. It is a cloth that can be worn on any ordinary occasion but during protests, the dress evolves as a banner and later into a tent. The cloth in the premise of Röda Sten Konsthall acts as a sculpture with a terracotta mask of Safoora. The embroidery on the cloth is inspired by Mughal miniature paintings. The final part of the work is a digital print of the actual dress being used in a public space in Kolkata. The image acts as a desire to imagine complex designs dedicated for social change.

Screams and Dreams trilogy is a part of the larger project titled My Screams are Silent in Your Dreams, that reminds viewers of numerous political prisoners such as Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam and many others who are a victim of political oppression in India. The Ghost of a Protest 2019 Arijit Bhattacharyya in collaboration with Lea Maria Wittich and Swagata Bhattacharyya 3D Animated video, 4 min. Commissioned by the city of Leipzig, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and Röda Sten Konsthall

The Ghost of a Protest is a video that shows a post-apocalyptic site of protest. The main building in the video is the old Stasi building in Leipzig (Germany).4 By establishing a narrative based on the interdependencies of past, present and future it imagines the protest in the year 2053. This triad is concretized in three dates: 1989—the year of the peaceful revolution that led to the fall of the Iron Curtain, 2021—the period of a drought of public life and 2053—which is the time between the two dates projected to the future. Drawing inspiration from the genre of Social science fiction5 and Anthropological Science Fiction6 the project explores the inherent utopian qualities of protest in contemporary society and in a dystopian future. The former Stasi building becomes a site of inception. The physical space layers the traces of the historical past and the speculative future into the reality of the present. Texts by Arijit Bhattacharyya

JULIA SCHUSTER Geology of the Body and Land 2022


Clay, ceramics, plywood, paint, sand 400 cm x 400 cm x 6 cm

Wondering: Love

Ceramics, steel wire, wire locks Size variable

Moving Through

The three elements are connected by the poem Homecoming. At its core the project Geology of the Body and Land arches through life-forming processes that connect us to past, present and future. Photo: Julia Schuster

Arctic clay, sand, sawdust, jute fibre, plywood, wooden beams, screws, LED lights 400 cm x 290 cm x 252 cm

directly from the depth of the Arctic seafloor. The arctic clay was provided by researcher Julek Chawarski, collected during the 2021 Synoptic Arctic Survey Expedition onboard Swedish research ship ‘Oden’. The reduced light inside the passageway enhances the olfactory experience of this unique clay and is an invitation to connect with the essence of time. Witnessing life’s transitions.


Text on Munken Kristall, 200gsm, nails Commissioned by Röda Sten Konsthall

The project Geology of the Body and Land consists of three major works and a text piece, created specifically for the site of Röda Sten Konsthall´s so-called Cathedral. Each of the three installations is inspired by a different layer of the pelvic floor. Located at the centre of our bodies the pelvic floor is both central for our entire posture and the process of birth. It is a place where new life coming into being passes through. The first element, Waves, repeats a powerful undulating movement over and over. The floor installation’s clay parts have been burnished in a long meditative process. This technique is an ancient tradition in which clay is polished to a sheen. It creates reflective surfaces that interact with the light in the Cathedral. Wandering to the second element – a hanging installation – visitors are invited to raise their gaze. Uplifting and hovering ceramic bars form Wondering: Love. Multiple layers open up to different perspectives on the inconceivable and the new. The third element, Moving Through, is a chamber construction displaying ancient clay coming

You got me, I got you 2021 Clay installation Various clays, MDF, paint Six tablets, each 18 cm x 30 cm Commissioned by Boy Konsthall. The work was produced for a collaborative exhibition with Arijit Bhattacharyya, ‘‘Manifesto for Clay’’, GIBCA Extended 2021

You got me, I got you is a series of clay tablets which are reminiscent of humankind’s oldest-preserved written documents that originate from the ancient Near East, and preceded the first libraries. The installation explores how clay as a universal and abundant natural resource common in cultures throughout the world continues to play a vital role.

Each tablet is a conversation between the maker and the material. The use of repetition invokes a mantra and describes the wide-ranging spectrum and qualities of clay. The writings reflect its poetry, its weight and the physical strength required to lift it, the protection it provides when turned into bricks that build houses, its force when large amounts of it move, resulting in landslides. The clay used in this work was dug up by Schuster from the site of Bollebygd’s former brick works, from Horn Tegelbruk, Sweden’s only remaining hand-made brickwork, and from Clanger Woods in the UK. Dried only by air and sun, the tablets remain unfired and thus highly fragile, speaking of the material’s cyclical nature and its potential to return to the earth it came from. Longing 2016 Split-screen video installation HD Video, 16:9, colour, 2 min. 31 sec. Commissioned by the Royal College of Art, London

Longing is an intimate performance that makes materially visible how our contact with the world takes place through the skin. Located on our skin, the sense of touch as our largest organ of perception is at the very core of being human. Already as a foetus, we collect all kinds of sensory impressions, feelings and experiences through the membrane of the skin.

In Longing, skin is replaced with clay and the work evokes a feeling of touching the clay and of being the clay itself. Direction and Script: Julia Schuster Colour correction: Roddy Cañas Edit: Julia Schuster

Texts by Julia Schuster

1. An onomatopoeia is a word that phonetically imitates, resembles, or suggests the sound that it describes. 2. Cultures and religions use vultures for their funeral rites, such as the Zoroastrians or Tibetans, laying their dead out to be eaten as a last sacrifice or, more importantly, making the act of dying part of an ecological cycle. 3. Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is an Indian law aimed at prevention of unlawful activities associations in India. Its main objective was to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India. The most recent amendment of the law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019 (UAPA 2019) has made it possible for the Union Government to designate individuals as terrorists without a due process of law. UAPA is also known as the Anti-terror law. 4. During the German Democratic Republic (1949– 1990) the Ministry for State Security or State Security Service was commonly known as the Stasi. One of the main task of Stasi was to spy on the people of the German Democratic Republic by using interconnected network of citizens-turned-informants to locate and prevent ‘enemies of the state’ from performing sedition. 5. Social science fiction is a subgenre of science fiction, usually concerned less with technology and more with speculation about society. 6. Anthropological Science Fiction is a subgenre of science fiction that uses anthropology as the fundamental anchor for knitting the imagined world.

Moving Through, Julia Schuster 2022 Photo: Röda Sten

Thanks to the intrinsic plasticity and malleability of clay, the matter clay, and the human body both share a capacity for memory where traces remain visible.


Photo: AnnaCarin Isaksson

Foto: Hillside Projects

Photo: Gerhard Schuster

HILLSIDE PROJECTS Hillside Projects is Emily Berry Mennerdahl (b. 1980) and Jonas Böttern( b. 1977) a Swedish/ British artist duo based in Stockholm, Sweden. Through an exploration into methods of storytelling and performance, their work is manifested as installations applying a range of materials including text, sound, video and publications. Situated within a conceptual framework, their practice revolves around tales of disappearances in the natural world, as well as the interrelated socio-political narratives that arise through these tales. Hillside Projects approach their subject matter embracing the absurd, the comedic and the tragic. Who should be saved and why? Who decides who should be saved? Is it time to say goodbye? Jonas Holmer (b. 1980) is an artist based in Stockholm. He received his Bachelor and Master degree from Konstfack in 2013 and respectively 2016. His pracrice involves video, animation, music and sound installations.

JULIA SCHUSTER Julia Schuster (b.1989, Vienna) is an artist currently living and working in Bollebygd, Sweden. Her material-discursive practice is based on clay and ceramic works which are combined with photography, sound, video and written work. She investigates clay’s unique cellular memory in relation to the memory that exists in our own human bodies. By exploring how materiality, writing and a body’s movements inwards and outwards unite, she creates deeply experiential, contemplative spaces that carry a grounding and essential quality.

ARIJIT BHATTACHARYYA Arijit Bhattacharyya (b. 1994, India) is an artist and independent curator currently living and working in Weimar, Germany. His practice revolves around contentious narratives of resistance through social engagements, design interventions, large murals and lecture-performances. His artistic discourse is deeply rooted in the dissecting trajectories of socio-political history and its implications in cultural practices. As a curator, he is invested in artistic negotiations that investigate methods of social disobedience.


Vernissage lördag 11 juni 2022 1 pm Inauguration 1.30pm Performance med Hillside Projects 2.30pm Performance med Arijit Bhattacharyya 4pm Artist Talk



Searching for the European Roller

How political is (y)our curry?

2015–2022 Performance-lecture 35 min.

2022 Lecture performance 60 min. Projection, beef potato Jhol, rice

Searching for the European Roller is a performance lecture situated somewhere between fact and imagination, spectacle and myth-making, humour and tragedy, discourse and action. Since 2015, it has been performed many times, each time taking on a new format and direction. The European Roller is a bird that used to live and breed in northern Europe but no longer does. The last time the bird was seen nesting in Sweden was in 1967 on the island of Fårö. Through mapping and exploring the bird’s whereabouts, emotions, and migratory patterns, Searching for the European Roller seeks to understand the desire for the reintroduction of species and the construction of nature. Why are certain species more desirable than others? Who or what belongs where and who or what does not belong? Throughout the performance the bird evolves into a metaphor for notions surrounding migration, life and death. The performance lecture was given during the exhibition’s opening June 11th.

When the ships first arrived at the coast of Calicut (India), history was forming a new shape for cuisine and other aspects of society in two different parts of the world. How political is (y)our curry? is a gastronomic lecture-performance about the food and politics of India and its relationship with colonialism. It attempts to negotiate power in a postcolonial context through food and develops an argument that investigates efforts of neo-colonialism, failed decolonisation and hypernationalism in postcolonial culture of India through gastronomy. The performance lecture was given during the exhibition’s opening June 11th.

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