Arts Illustrated

November 12, 2020

Spill: A Cascade of Memory, Familiarity, Blood and Water

Sohrab Hura’s photography, his applied craftsmanship with film and sound at the Experimenter Gallery in Ballygunge brings together a strange feeling of intense foreboding and equal warmth, in the depths of a rising fever

Mayur B. Hatibaruah

‘They’re wearing masks, for The Coast is also a masquerade,’ says Sohrab Hura, as he takes his audience and patrons on a walkthrough among his exhibits at Spill – a combined twelve years of valiant effort. This masquerade, a goliath diorama of photographs singled out from his film seems a bit odd, as if nobody’s posing, as if the subjects are all performing a ritual before conquering the sea, with nothing but their limbs and their demeanour. Hura knows he is there, but the chaos that reigns disillusions his subjects into believing that everybody is watching, from God to the very ripples they create in the water under the deafening and dark night sky. The artist, the creator here, implies that his film is more like theatre. And so, his subjects put on masks, oblivious and yet aware of the world looking over them. It is really smart of Hura to put The Coast on the forefront of his magnum opus, just to shock his audience with a work so charged and bone chilling, that all it needs is a tap of a finger, and we are there, witnessing the brilliance in photography and filmmaking as it comes together.

Spill: Sohrab Hura, Installation view from Spill, Experimenter – Ballygunge Place.

From the motif of the endless flow of water beating against the force of the raw energy of the people on The Coast revelling in their mystic anonymity, to the metaphysical conundrums his subjects find themselves in (see: Bittersweet), there are no half-hearted emotions. His subjects are well aware of their aplomb and agony, as they rise and rebel against the treacherous waves. The gradients, the dark undertones and the fazed bokeh visuals, expounded in his subtler additions titled Midnight Studies and a Self Portrait, allow a certain perspective on their identities, their characterisation to define their objectives. This remarkability is found in a great storyteller and Hura stands tall here.

Sohrab Hura, The Coast, Archival pigment print, 24ʺ x 16ʺ, Edition 2 of 3 plus 2 artist’s proofs, 2013 – 2019.

Things take on a more experimental turn when Hura throws politically directed newspaper cut-outs and various moments from The Coast together, uses the ramblings in his own head and infuses sound and images to create harmony in Scramble and A Proposition for Departure – further proving how diversified his craft is and where he positions himself as an artist. Spill also finds itself in the once dying arms of a village whilst stamping the final push towards the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), capturing the plight and the journey in intense monochrome in Pati. At the Experimenter, Hura weaves an era defining work of art, hand picking strands of writhing emotion, stories of rebellion, of himself and his journey and of a river that always flows.

Sohrab Hura, A Proposition for Departure, Archival pigment prints, Suite of 9, 9 7/8ʺ x 14 5/8ʺ, Edition 1 of 6 plus 2 artist’s proofs, 2017.

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All Images are Courtesy of the Artist and Experimenter – Ballygunge Place.

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