Celebrating the global premiere of the artist’s latest film ‘One Life Many’, the exhibition marks the first survey of Shetty’s moving image works, presenting rarely seen videos, multi-media installations and sculptures. The exhibition at Ishara features eight significant works from Shetty’s vast oeuvre, presenting his rare and deep interest in the musical and literary traditions of South Asia. In the unique form of interdisciplinarity that his practice advocates, a key motif that runs throughout the exhibition is a ‘poetics of listening’. Videos, images, objects and texts assume a fleeting presence in Shetty’s repertoire, as if they were musical notes that are at once real yet ungraspable, repetitive yet novel.
The exhibition opens with an untitled sculptural installation by Shetty. Comprising of six pairs of water vessels displayed inside a glass vitrine, each object rests on its side with its mouth partly facing the viewer. Dented and worn with age, the metallic pots are accompanied by their mirror replica sculpted in wood. Arranged vertically in a single column, the installation carries an uncanny resemblance to percussive instruments, an abstract composition of progressive scales, and a duet of bodies resting silently together.
Reflecting on the exhibition, Sudarshan Shetty comments: “Like in the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East has a captivating tradition of poetry and storytelling deeply entrenched in its history. The interaction between these two distant lands has fostered a cross-pollination of stories, which has resulted blending of myths, legends and folktales, creating a vibrant mosaic that resonates through both regions. Retelling is the life blood of oral traditions ensuring a sense of community and recalling wisdom that has evolved through centuries. How else can we make sense of our present?”
Only Life, Myriad Places is an artistic homage to the rich and diverse traditions of music, literature and storytelling that have travelled for centuries and are presented through contemporary art. The exhibition will be accompanied by physical and virtual tours, educational and public programmes, and artist conversations over the duration of the show.
Only Life, Myriad Places: Sudarshan Shetty will be on view till 9 December 2023 at the Ishara Art Foundation, Alserkal Avenue in Dubai, UAE.