Project 88 is pleased to present De-notified Land, Anupam Roy’s first solo show at the gallery. Reflecting Roy’s long-term engagement with grassroot movements, the exhibition features works that expand the dialogue surrounding art and activism through a careful deliberation of socio-political and phenomenological conceptions of land.
Roy’s body of work addresses both, the material exploitation of land, as well as the more intangible yet oppressive bureaucratisation, legislation, and politicisation associated with its ownership. His sketches, paintings, banners, and prints juxtapose materials and referents that are specific to his subject with what he considers “anti-referential” elements. Through this endeavour, Roy confronts the impossibility of objectively representing the complexities that surround the perception, delineation, and function of land given the contradictions and tautologies that govern its allocation and usage. Land is perceived ultimately as a space that lends itself towards subjective interpretation and engagement based on one’s own socio economic affinity and identity. For Roy, recognising such contrary and idiosyncratic perspectives helps dismantle hegemonic land discourses.
While the contentious nature of discourses surrounding land are frequently masked by spectacular imagery, Roy consciously brings the overpowering oppression associated with them to the forefront of his compositions. Effectively, the phenomenological vastness and picturesqueness of the landscape is challenged by the pressing need for collective action and resistance against overbearing strategies used to administer it. While Roy’s works make references to localized struggles and conflicts, they point toward the need for broader consciousness. Roy further strives to render his surfaces uncanny and surreal, suggesting the limitations of rationality in making sense of the intricacies of varying land discourses. As he states, “The space, as I imagine, is an irreal entity of contrast and diversity; a world within, paralyzed and blurred by the very notion of it.” Where Roy’s artworks thus acknowledge the limitations of activism, they simultaneously serve to imbue viewers with a critical and sensitive approach towards understanding land-politics.
Abhilasha Shrivastava, an environment research scholar from the Wild Life Institute of India, Dehradun has been an integral part of the project by providing her valuable input and guidance to the artist. Her expertise on existing land, it's evaluation and statistics were used.