Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018 : Shambhavi Singh

Discovering Shambhavi Singh at Kochi

Shambhavi Singh has taken the much talked about plight of the agrarian workers and put in straightaway on an international platform.  On display at Aspinwall House at Fort Kochi are four installations by the artist, under the name of “Maati Ma’ -‘Lullaby III’, ‘Water Garland’, ‘Reapers Melody’ and ‘Braille’.

Painfully aware of the vast divide between the rural and the urban, Shambhavi deliberately uses agrarian tools and daily life objects. These objects are a metaphor for her story. These are tools that help create and nurture, working very closely with nature. While the concept of these tools are lesser known to a wide demographic of the city dweller, the benefits are reaped by all.

It is this conflicting  idea that that has raised her concern and this is why rural life continues to inspire her work.

Her works deal with the plight of peasants and labourers in India. “A simple palm-leaf fan is magnified and concretised, alluding to its value in soothing the weary peasant traveller on hot, dusty journeys,” she notes.   “The monumentalisation of a crude-metal sieve, however, maintains darker connotations. The object, while representing a means of survival and livelihood, also bears the brunt of countless memories and the endless yearning for another place: home.”

The artists view gradually encourages the viewer to delve deeper into the heart  of the everyday utilities, and hear their silent stories.

Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018 : Shambhavi Singh
image courtesy : www.deskgram.net

Shambhavi points out while the sickle is a farming tool that can double as a weapon, the water garland in disuse can be used to “regenerate seeds disappearing from our consciousness”.

The artist emphasises that the farmer alone can understand the “incandescent rhythm and the resonance of depth” in her work. As for ‘Water Garland’, “With ‘development’ came oversized populations, thoughtless, meaningless growth, unimaginable pressures on land and on earth,” states the artist whose work was added to the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

‘Reapers Melody’ explores the life and work of the displaced farmer in an ever-shifting modern landscape.

Singh reflects on the farmer’s role as nurturer and provider, while negotiating the division and exploitation of land that threatens to dissolve its very existence.

Shambhavi emphasises that today’s age in time has people living in a world where food arrives “magically” in plastic packets. “Children do not know the hardship farmers go through to produce the grains,” she notes. “I, through my art, want the world to remember the farmer, his/her commitment and one’s family, towards mother earth.”

Spending her childhood in Patna, Shambhavi’s engagement with the nature and her roots, has taken form in painting, sculpture and installation. “I come from a rural background; so my village and its field have been my visual inspirations,” she says. “Through my work I try to depict the life and struggle of the farmers.”

The Artist completed a BFA in Fine Arts from Patna’s College of Fine Art’s and Crafts, and a MFA from the College of Art in Delhi. She has been widely represented through her works internationally as well as nationally. The artist lives and works in New Delhi.


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