Contemporary artist Tahireh Lal explores light and interdependence in her new show, Phototrope
The installations are being showcased at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat in Bengaluru
Tahireh Lal, contemporary artist, splits her time between Bengaluru, Guwahati and rural Assam. Her art installations are inspired by her life in all these places. “My artwork stems from perceptual observations. I look for details and amplify them to generate works,” she tells us. Her latest show, titled Phototrope, draws from observations of light in natural and built environments. Through the collection she is trying to question ideas of human agency and interdependence from a feminist viewpoint. We speak to her about the show:
Where did you get the idea to work on the theme of ‘Phototropes’?
The title Phototrope is drawn from the botanical term ‘Phototropism’ which is the quality of organisms, particularly plants, to grow towards the light for energy and nourishment. It became a way to think of our affinities as humans too – beings of light held in place by the darkness of the universe; not just metaphorically, but literally too, with forces of gravity around which our galaxies spin.
The theme ‘phototrope’ emerged from a series of ideas and explorations that had to do with observations of light. The work didn’t start with the theme phototrope but arrived at it, and then the word came to mean different things in the context of each piece.
What are some of the highlights of the show?
In The Twinkle Of Your Eye is a map of the visible stars in the night sky rendered in retroreflective stickers. Through the process of crafting and studying the various components of the piece - the map, the stickers, the codification, the mistakes along the way - the role of human agency becomes increasingly apparent.
The Yale Bright Star catalogue by Dorris Hoffleit indexes the stars which are visible to the naked human eye, in the night sky, from both hemispheres. It is impossible for a human being to look up to the sky and see all of the visible stars at once. The cumulative efforts of astronomers and those that have developed our systems of knowing and recording make it possible for us to assimilate this information. This piece notes the abiding egotistical curiosity of our species, babes in a universe that is estimated to be 13.8 billion years old.
What kind of research went into the creation of these pieces?
My research and practice are interdisciplinary. For these works there were a lot of facts and figures from the scientific world. I made different models to develop the electronic work titled Colour Study In Ultra-Violet. Philosophically there is a wealth of material on light and shadows. I spent time reading the feminist theorists Karen Barad and Donna Harraway, the poems of Lal Ded and I also began to read Buddhist texts.
What materials have you used?
I work with different kinds of materials -- based on the material and philosophical exploration at hand. For this body of work, I have used light sensitive materials including reflectors and lenses. Combining materials, ideas and experiments I create works that are experiential. My approach to work, materials and visual outcome is motivated and minimal. The materials used are work dependent and can run the gamut from collecting sand on beaches to Amazon orders for hard-to-find electronics, and art supplies from stores.