Sights and Sound – Museum of Art & Photoraphy (MAP)

Location: Euskalduna Exhibition – Hall 1 + Projection in Auditorium

Date: May 31st – June 3rd

A digital experience created by the Museum of Art & Photography, Bengaluru in collaboration with BrandMusiq

Can sound influence the way we see? Can music reveal a new mode of interpreting artworks? Weaving the visual with the sonic, Sights and Sounds presents a multi-sensory journey through six artworks in MAP’s collection. Each artwork evokes a mix of emotions like fear, joy and melancholy, inviting you to perceive works of art sonically in order to empower an aesthetic experience through the act of listening.

Prabuddha Dasgupta, Francis and Bobby D’souza in their bedroom, Parra (‘Edge of Faith’ series, published 2009), 2006

Two men sit closely together on the edge of a bed, captured in a moment of intimacy and closeness. Whether the two men are brothers, friends or lovers remains an unanswered question. Time, in this image, stands still. The bare floor of the room, the worn-out interiors and stillness suggest time that is paused.

Francis and Bobby D’souza in their bedroom, Parra is part of the series Edge of Faith. In this series of photographs, Prabuddha Dasgupta documents moments of melancholy and nostalgia, but also the tenderness of interpersonal relationships within the Catholic community of Goa.

Goa became an independent state in 1987, after more than 500 years. As a newly formed state, it struggled between holding onto a religious and a colonial identity, and of a new state and national identity.  

While this image might appear magical to us, the viewers, it might be a very real and common moment to Bobby and Francis. Yet, it also allows us to witness the intimacy shared between them and the photographer.

Anjaneya, Andhra Pradesh or Karnataka, India, c. 1970

Is Hanuman on his way to fetch medicinal herbs for Sita or is he flying to search for Sita in Lanka? In the case of shadow string puppets, one string puppet such as the character of Hanuman, could be part of many scenes that puppets bring to the enactment of mythologies in Southern India. 

Shadow theatre is believed to be one of the earliest performance arts in which humans are sutradhars or “pullers of strings”. Interpretation of chaya or shadows by a group of puppeteers, singers and actors are not only a form of entertainment; these all-night performances can also serve as a reminder of one’s ancestors. The actors modify their voices to dramatize scenes and deliver dialogues for hours using 100 or more puppets per story. Here, Anjaneya’s heroic nature would be emphasized through sounds of thunder, rain and intense battles. 

This shadow play of puppets is known as tholu bommalata in Telugu and togalu gombe aata in Kannada, and are also made in Kerala and Orissa.

Baluchari sari, Undivided Bengal, India, early 20th Century

Baluchari came from Baluchar located in present day Murshidabad. The unusually long pattern suggests that the weavers were interested in weaving their local surroundings into the cloth. How did Baluchar and its neighboring areas show up in designs of steam engines, in figures of Nawabs, flowers and frames?

The rectangular cloth in typical baluchari colors like purple, gold and silver contains a pattern of kalkas, an auspicious almond shaped design which is also found in important textiles from Bengal like jamdani and kantha. The arrangement of motifs tells us that the sari was divided in a manner which is similar to terracotta temple architecture that was introduced by Jain merchants. These merchants were traders of silk cloth and collected baluchari textiles as artworks. The brocade on baluchari was woven on a jacquard loom or a draw loom, with weavers making the patterns much larger on the pallu. While most Bengali saris were draped vertically, baluchari might have been draped horizontally like the ones in Gujarat. Because of a concentration of silk traders, Bengal attracted Portuguese merchants and traders from the East India Company to settle there. We see this in the form of 18th century technologies such as the steam engine depicted above. Inside the engine, we see mysteries of life in Bengal, people exchanging flowers, drinking wine and enjoying the journey. 

Semi-automated portable display unit depicting ‘Rang Holi’, Chonker Art Studio, Bombay (Mumbai), India, early 20th century

How did one create movement within a still image? What were some of the ingenious techniques that makers used to “animate” a work in the early 20th century?

The arrival of lithography in the 1800s allowed for the democratization of calendar art and initiated a culture of mass produced imagery in India. Commercial presses established during the later half of the century produced chromolithographs, particularly images of gods and goddesses. The style of these prints was hybrid as they often blended Indian and European aesthetics.

Based on an artwork by R.G. Chonker, this portable unit contains a print showing a scene of holi. Set within a palatial backdrop, we see Krishna in a green and yellow dhoti besides gopis dressed in colourful saris. A closer look at the jewellery and clothes shows embellishments with hints of silver glitter.

As the title “Rang Holi” suggests, Krishna and the gopis are celebrating holi, a festival that also celebrates the divine love between Krishna and Radha. The strewn colours on the ground, the golden pichkaris or water guns and the coy look of a seated gopi all add to this sense of joy and celebration.

A turn key mechanism at the back of the unit brings the print to life. Some of the figures have their heads and hands cut out and then pasted back onto the print to allow for visible movement. Once it is wound up, you see subtle movement such as the nodding of heads and slight motion of the hands and pichkaris.

Brahmani, 10th century, Karnataka, India

Brahmani, personifies the shakti or the energy of Brahma and belongs to a group of seven or eight goddesses called the matrikas or mothers.

Ram Kumar, Untitled, 1976

A painting that merges colours, primarily hues of red, evoking a sense of a burning landscape.

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