Navigation

FROM A CRADLE OF THORNS

V.V.Vinus-works
Utharakalam Admin

Vinu’s works refuse to accept the basic assumptions inherent in such posturing and attempts to begin its real work in the fuzzy areas in  the  aporias of ‘culture ‘.  The closing off of entire cultures towards what falls outside of the hegemonic , the demonization  of ‘other’ peoples and cultures, is a constant theme in Vinu’s paintings. While  difference is marked by contempt and suspicion in the  common sense of socially dominant groups, attempting to paralyze dissent, this artist refuses to partake in the diatribes of the ‘cultured’ and makes out a case to the contrary, aided by the subversive potentials of Ambedkar vis a vis Indian culture.

___________________________________________________________
BENOY.P.J
___________________________________________________________
It would be poignant to talk about the exhibition of V.V.Vinu’s works held at the Buddha Art gallery, Fort Kochi with two anecdotes, one from a rejoinder from the poet Binu Pallippadu, which was written as a response to a photo on fb of the installation titled ‘Making Visible the  rejected and the fragmented’ and another a response that a viewer shared about the same work.  Binu’s comment was brief and clear:“Noon rest..”.It was a clear indicator of the connection that the work in which several sickles were left  thrust into a tree trunk to create a tree like pattern had to traces of agrarian labour, while the other comment was related to the heat in the gallery on the opening day which a viewer found to be appropriate considering the nature of the show. The necessity of agrarian work and its near impossibility in the present historical context  for the subaltern castes also figures prominently in another work in which a spade is connected to another long piece of wood in such a way that it would be impossible to use it. The thorns that are put in it which makes it even more cumbersome to handle reflects the artists dilemma in the face  of the complexities of present day labour relations and its particular intertwining with caste which tends to devalue manual labour, and the labourer herself.

If the questions of art were  always already well settled, and its legitimate ways proscribed, it would have been  almost immaterial for an artist like Vinu.V.V, or for that any other artist,  to work at all. In a certain idea about ‘culture’ that sees it as a possession  and seeks to establish distinctions  through a recourse to the exceptional, an avant-garde rhetoric, Vinu’s works refuse to accept the basic assumptions inherent in such posturing and attempts to begin its real work in the fuzzy areas in  the  aporias of ‘culture ‘.  The closing off of entire cultures towards what falls outside of the hegemonic , the demonization  of ‘other’ peoples and cultures, is a constant theme in Vinu’s paintings. While  difference is marked by contempt and suspicion in the  common sense of socially dominant groups, attempting to paralyze dissent, this artist refuses to partake in the diatribes of the ‘cultured’ and makes out a case to the contrary, aided by the subversive potentials of Ambedkar vis a vis Indian culture.

_____________________________________
The self portraits and mother’s portrait, titled ‘Don’t read me into everything’ asks for a broader view of what is usually considered to be a ‘private’ affair, placing it outside what is strictly personal.  They attempt to mark the everyday life of an ordinary citizen, its tensions, deep -rooted attitudes that need to be reworked, and the refusal  to subscribe to hegemony’s categories in understanding self and the other.
_____________________________________

In these works, another notion of culture makes its appearance, refusing to close off and finalize its possibilities  by throwing it open for critical challenges that are pitted in the very areas where traditional culture fails in its attempts at such totalization and renders visible the fault-lines in Power. Its irreverence towards currently fashionable attitudes which fail to think through these blind spots, that often deploy markers entrenched in what have become conventions of the art world, to glot in the glory of events made possible by struggling people all over the world , but to refuse in any way to connect with the everyday struggles of the marginalized peoples, is what makes it unique .In its attempts to summon a people, its refusal  to succumb to the discreet charms of the brahminical, in its call to connect to those people who fall outside the precincts of high culture, it reuses the ordinary with a rare precision, turning it around  and making it work  culture so that the crucial contribution of the much abused ‘ lumpen  masses’ to social life and culture could be rendered visible.  The’masses’ have acquired a pejorative sense especially since the days of fascism, and a general tendency is to steer clear of all attempts to rearticulate politics from a mass standpoint. The effect of this was to cultivate elitist positions, which were in fact as ineffectual in putting up any real challenge to fascism , and was instrumental in making things even more pathetic for common people. If the political option were to be held impossible, it only persuaded people to go in for strategies which were even more drastic where the processes of democratic reasoning had an even lesser part to play. In his art Vinu attempts to work out a counter-hegemonic strategy grounded in a politics of difference which could address the frustrations of the common folk in the face of the generalized contempt for them exhibited by the ‘cultured’ (brahminism  in fact is grounded in the logic of intellectual and cultural exceptionalism).
Another notion of culture is at work here, that of a culture that works, that values the traces of labour, and that doesn’t hold the other in contempt, alternatively threatened  and charmed by that which is held to be underdeveloped or primitive. It is in this attempt to work culture, to make it more succulent with the aid of the intuitive understandings of a fragmented self subjected to power, that it appropriates something of the originality of the subaltern enlightenment that had broken through the stranglehold of caste and had demanded education, public access to roads, better working conditions and land for the marginalized sections and had thus made democracy possible for us.

In ‘Rejoining the fragmented’ the shards of a broken pot which brings to mind C.Ayyappan’s words about the lives of dalits “kallelitta kalam pole” (like a pot that was dropped on a rock) are rejoined  to make something reminiscent of a dark human face to appear. In this it explores an area similar to what R.Venu had explored in his installation “kaaval bhootham” which marks a novel micro-political trajectory in the Kerala art scene.
The self portraits and mother’s portrait, titled ‘Don’t read me into everything’ asks for a broader view of what is usually considered to be a ‘private’ affair, placing it outside what is strictly personal.  They attempt to mark the everyday life of an ordinary citizen, its tensions, deep -rooted attitudes that need to be reworked, and the refusal  to subscribe to hegemony’s categories in understanding self and the other.
The work titled ‘Black is another light’ takes issue with the’ scientific’ understanding of light and points towards the presence of blackness as another source of light, vaguely reminding one of Baldwin’s  famous  essay ‘Carmen Jones: The dark is light enough.’

Print Friendly

Subscribe Our Email News Letter :