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January 05, 2017

Dia Mehta Bhupal Searches For Meaning In The Mundane

Text by Amishi Parekh. Images courtesy: Kochi Biennale Foundation

One of 97 artists at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016, she talks about the ideas that flow through her work….

For Hyderabad-based Dia Mehta Bhupal, public spaces such as waiting rooms, toilets, supermarkets and airplane cabins are ripe with layers of narrative; containing traces of the hundreds of people who constantly move through them. She painstakingly re-creates these places as ‘sets’, by a process that alludes to the stories hidden in their banality.

1. Tell us about your work…
“I make images of rooms and other spaces that appear both strange and familiar at once. My photographs are of three-dimensional sets, mostly life-size, painstakingly constructed from magazines, newspaper and cardboard. Each piece of paper is cut, rolled and glued into many layers; a process taking up to two years on more complex sculptures.

At first sight, the architectural subjects represented in the photographs seem devoid of human presence but they relate to social sites where public and private moments often uncannily coexist. Close inspection also reveals the paper’s intricate detail.”

2. Why do you use newspapers and magazines to create these sets?
“There are so many politics surrounding paper! It makes an engaging and vulnerable medium. Each roll comes with its own text to create myriad stories about different cultures, time periods and genres.”

3. How does your photography connect with these three-dimensional works?
“Although people are figuratively absent, what remains are images which become models of the memory, experience, and contemplation of specific moments. In a world saturated with manipulated or mediated images, my images re-evaluate the potential of the photographic medium. They do not simply depict the world around but actively accord participation in its construction.”

4. Is there a theme that you’re exploring in your work?
“My practice examines the contemporary status of photographic images, the liminal possibility of introspection, and hidden structures of meaning in the mundane.”

Read our previous interview with Dia Mehta Bhupal here.

View Dia Mehta Bhupal’s photography at The Kochi-Muziris Biennale here.

Read about our top 12 picks from The Kochi-Muziris Biennale here.

Read about what you should not miss at The Kochi-Muziris Biennale here.

Read our first-person account of The Kochi-Muziris Biennale here.

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