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July 20, 2017

Sahej Rahal: Feeding His Inner ‘Mad’ Artist

Text by Tina Dastur

Art might be his first love, but storytelling is equally integral to this 28-year-old’s practice

Art might be his first love, but storytelling is equally integral to this 28-year-old’s practice. Born in Mumbai, Sahej Rahal’s multidisciplinary approach to his work includes drawing, sculpture, performance and moving image. Speaking about his artistic inspirations, Sahej promptly slips into narrator mode and weaves a bizarre tale to elucidate. “On 28th September 2008, I had left the Rachana Sansad Academy of Fine Arts and Crafts early to play a few rounds of Counter-Strike at a cybercafe in Bandra, and I found a private server that was hosting a modified version of the de_dust2 map. As soon as the game loaded, I checked the score tab and saw that there was only one other player on the map; I read the name aloud — BASILISK. And that is when it happened. I got killed, but instead of respawning, my avatar froze and the other player’s voice whispered in my headset that it was an artificial intelligence that had been designed to archive the research of the Iranian archaeologist, Dr. Hamid Parsani. It went on to show me the secrets of the multidisciplinary artist and told me that I must use them to prepare the world for the coming of the [REDACTED],” he reveals.

It is his peculiarity that has got him both national and international acclaim. From his sculptures at the second edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2014 to his mixed-media works for his solo show Adversary at Chatterjee & Lal in 2016, Sahej continues to challenge the notions of conventional art. His most recent showcase was at the 2016 edition of the Liverpool Biennial, where a series of installations — peppered across the city — that resembled fossilised artefacts from science fiction and popular culture reimagined thousands of years into an abstract future.

Today, he is feeding his inner ‘mad’ artist to prepare for the next chapter in his story. “In September, I shall be following traces of recent unnatural activity that has been pointing to signs of the [REDACTED] at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow….” he trails off. And one can only gander at what he’s plotting next.

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