Belgrade Art Studio’s Online Art Residency

I participated in a month long online art residency by the Belgrade Art Studio, centred around the theme ‘artist on standby’.

Context – There was a natural disaster last year in the area we currently reside (Kumaon, Uttarakhand). We were battered by torrential rains that lasted for 48 hours. By the end of it we had no power and water for a week. And no internet for a few hours. There were landslides every 100 metres on the road that connects us to the outer world. We were effectively cut off. Since then I have often come across household items (mugs, bottles, cups, oil cans) along the path behind our house. Objects that got displaced because of the rains. Objects that were situated in their environment till a violent external force changed that status quo.

I felt a certain familiarity with this story. 17 years of my life had seen no change while I was living in Delhi. But then covid changed that. It brought a rude shock to my environment. My art before that moment was almost non-existent but 2020 saw me work on three projects as a response to the lockdowns. The status quo was changed, just like that.

So when the world around me changed substantially, under an extreme external force, I was forced to change too, just like those objects under the onslaught of rains.


The themes I explored, as a result, are of pressure and stress, and momentum and state. And because there is the context of rains in my story, the artworks are inspired by meteorological phenomena.


When is a force strong enough to change an object’s state of rest?
(Intaglio prints)

A series of eight intaglio prints (using tetrapak as a plate) that wonder when is a pressure strong enough to obliterate an object or change its existence as we knew it.

What happens when an air mass comes to a halt against a mountain and has no way to escape?
(Video / Paper, pompoms, magnets, thread, stones)

The concept of orographic lift (or the windward/leeward concept – a mass of moving air hits a mountain, rises along the mountain, cools down, and eventually results in precipitation) seemed like a nice metaphor to describe my time in 2020, moving as I was in my life till a mountain of covid stood in the way. The result, a pouring out of emotions through art.


If pressure is external and stress is internal, what happened between March and October in 2020?
(Gauze, six types of paper – tracing paper, rice paper, newsprint, 90 gsm bond sheet, 150ish gsm craft paper and 250ish gsm archival paper, and tetrapak)

Inspired by synoptic weather charts, eight isobars of increasing barometric pressure lead to a zone of high pressure. But notice carefully and you’ll see these numbers are in fact months from 2020, and the story starts in march, 03,20, and ends in October, 10,20.

The choice of papers conveys the effect of increasing pressure, over months, on the stress within. So we begin with tetrapak in March, a sturdy, durable, and strong material, representative of my mental state; the lockdown was new and we were all certain that things will work out in the end and that we can breeze through any sort of lockdown. Move to April, and the frame of mind was back to pre covid time. But beyond that it all went downhill. Slowly and slowly, strength gave way to fragility, as you can see through the papers, literally, and it all ends with a gauze, the very fabric of one’s existence coming apart.


Against the light


Some photos of work in progress


Some photos of work in progress