“[A] dream never tells us whether its elements are to be interpreted literally or in a figurative sense or whether they are to be connected to the material of the dream- thoughts directly or through the intermediary of some interpolated phraseology.”
– Sigmund Freud, The interpretation of Dreams
Dreams are a gateway to the unconscious– a doorway to repressed emotions, denials, unearthed realities and wish fulfilment. Very rarely do we try to understand their figurative and symbolic meanings and even more rarely do we act upon them. We are ignorant of the language of the unconscious and accept dreamsas a blatant part of sleep cycles.
However, artist Ram Kumar Manna summoned the symbolic meaning of a particularly significant dream and chose to ‘sculpt’ it to reality…
“PerForm” was initially developed as a concept show of Ram Kumar’s manifestation of dream on clay. Later, artist Dipankar Sankrityayan worked closely with this sculptor, conceptualizing and bringing together the exhibit on ‘performance artists’ working separately in the fields they are best known for.
A master at storytelling through clay, Manna had a dream with large numbers of musicians and singers, with rather blurred faces, performing in a village-like setting where the spectators could be stratified into classes. The figures in the show range from harmonica-playing singers to ones playing stringed instruments. On being questioned aboutthe vagueness of the instruments, he mentions how some of these mental images got blurred during the working process and he did not want to manipulate the actual narrative. Eerily, the musicians range from Bengal’s kirtanplayers under banyan trees to Manganiars from far west Jaisalmer–all speaking the unified language of music.
Manna tells us how his sculptures hold the aesthetics of domesticity. His process of sculpting and years of experimentation have helped him develop a method where his terracotta pieces are extremely lightweight due to theirinner part being hollow.
Artist Dipankar Sankrityayan worked on his forte of painting, and brought us a narrative of the performers’ inner lives. Working with diversified mediums of pen & ink, charcoal, soft pastels, acrylic, he tells the stories behind these masked faces.
The diluting art of wooden puppets is revived in his works by adding an affective tone to the puppets rather than their controller. Byadding open-ended Bluetooth symbols on the attire of the puppets and interchanging costume colours of couple puppets with their partner’s string colour– he depicts subtle hues of romance between these inanimate objects.
He tells us that the irony of a joker’s life has had a deep impact on his works. He said, “indeed we are all jokers acting our part and making sure that the ‘show goes on’, despite all the pain and grief”.
Two of his surrealist works in the show are interpretative of a couple in long term courtship. During the discussion of these works he struck back with a rhetorical question, “Isn’t love a form of enchantment, anyway?” You live with someone for years and slowly the domesticity of love grows inside you; it solidifies like an extended organ – an extension of your lover.
The show PerForm will take you to a land of mysticism and fascination; the world less talked about, but felt with an intent toescape reality…
PerForm goes on till 22nd October, 2016 at Range Art Gallery.