Avarana (2012)

About this event

Akhila Krishnan
Fabric : Film

(2011-ongoing, from the Shadow film series)

Saturday 25 August – Sunday 30 September
Daily 12 noon to 9pm in Riverside Gallery

In Hindi, the word ‘Āvarana’ is evocative of many meanings – sheath, overlay, screening, film. It refers to the layer of fabric with which we clothe ourselves as well as the filmic screen itself – that surface on which we see both our interior and exterior worlds; the within and without. For women in India the idea of fabric is synonymous with the saree -a length of unstitched cloth that women of the subcontinent drape around their bodies in various ways. The saree sheaths the body of many Indian women; it is a fundamental part of their everyday life. Each saree is unique to a woman and yet, universal at the same time.

This work is closely concerned with this fabric and with the geography of my home in India, my life and my family there. In this sense it is deeply personal – the piece evokes and distils my own identity, as a film-maker and a woman from India. It also represents my family, in particular the generations of strong women I have admired as I have grown up.

Domestic spaces and rituals are a primarily female domain in India. They are arenas of potent meaning for me.  And they hold even more fascination because they are rarely spoken about or explored – they are accepted as an inherent part of the fabric of life in India. These spaces and rituals represent a ceaseless cycle and rhythm in my life that I have always moved to in an instinctive way. The women of great significance in my life – my mother, grandmothers and aunts still hear the call of this beat, though we all move to it in our own ways.

I had never sought to understand or examine the meanings of these spaces and rhythms before. They were a fundamental part of my life that I never questioned. They were a part of a silent dialogue, a conversation between three generations of women in my family that stretched back to the roots of who we were. A conversation that was particular to us and yet simultaneously universal to many women and their families across the country.

When I started living in London, I began to seek these meanings in a conscious way. As I moved out in a geographical sense, I began to move within on a metaphysical plane. I now pursue and examine these spaces and rhythms within the intellectual and formal structure of my practice as an artist.

The sun shines on the gridded tiles of my grandmother’s house near Pune. The lines are uniform and even. They grow even as they repeat: Like patterns on fabric, like the branches of a family tree. Sometimes, the women of the house come up to the terrace to hang their washing out to dry. The sun shines down on the fabrics, even as the wind blows through them, carrying the whispers in their threads. Whose cloth hangs here? These sarees could belong to any of the three generations of women who are from this house. In this family, like many in this country, they are passed down from mother to daughter, to granddaughter. So if we listen closely, whose voice can we hear? Whose whispers escape into the wind as it blows through the threads?

For my grandmother, SivakaminiIyer (1924-2012)

Akhila Krishnan is a visual artist, film-maker and designer. She completed her M.A. from the Royal College of Art, receiving a distinction for her work and research.

Akhila’s practice explores the relationship between the material and the temporal, the still and the moving image; negotiating their knots of tension and connection. She is interested in exploring the boundaries of language and medium to discover new dimensions that are inherent within them. This act of translation and revelation is a crucial aspect of her practice.

Akhila is also concerned with addressing questions of culture and cultural specificity through her work, which has been shown in London, Berlin, California, Qatar, Nepal and India. She is very interested in collaborative and cross disciplinary practice, consistently creating opportunities to work with people and communities. She was a visiting tutor and design associate at the prestigious National Institute of Design (India) from 2006-’09.

Recent exhibitions and shows include Man Group Drawing Prize at the Royal College of Art, Garden Music at King’s Place (London,) theDiscerning Eye show at the Mall Galleries and Time & Travel at Kudamm (Berlin.) Akhila just completed working on the video design for the Olympics Opening Ceremony (for 59 Productions.) She also collaborated with artist Meghana Bisineer for the edit and sound design of the filmLight Water Glass, that has been selected for the 2012 Jerwood Drawing Prize.

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