When the wind blows. Quotidian objects of domestic use – table fans, chopping boards, kitchen mixers, synthetic packing material – take on the semantic and material qualities of drawing, photography, and sculpture to chart conceptual routes between drawing and photography, photography and sculpture, sculpture and installation. Parts of appliances, even those that have outlived their quotidian usefulness and have now transformed into urban debris, are recovered and reinserted into fantastic imaginary topographies.
As such, the appliances that repeatedly appear in Prajakta Potnis’ work belong principally to the space of the kitchen – that laboratory-like space where otherwise indigestible vegetal and animal flesh are routinely processed, reshaped, and cajoled into forms appropriate for human ingestion. In part, Prajakta’s engagement with the gastronomical emanates from an ongoing interest in the aftermath of the Second World War, when the apocalyptic imagery of the mushroom cloud invoked by the explosion of the atomic bomb percolated into all aspects of cultural and intellectual production. Steadily and insidiously, military expertise seeped into the space of the modern home through the invention of kitchen appliances such as the microwave oven, an appliance whose technology derived from radar experimentation during the Second World War. The Second World War’s radar experimentation, of course, can be most readily associated with the ability of bomber airplanes to annihilate civilian populations with precision. The disturbing intimacy between annihilation and ingestion implicit here are explored in Prajakta’s work, as are the nebulous demarcations between the internal and the external, the private and public.
In diction and tenor, When the wind blows builds upon her 2014 solo exhibition at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, where she revisited the now historical American National Exhibition, which had opened in Moscow in 1959. It is here that the famous Kitchen Debate between the US Vice President Richard Nixon and the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev erupted in the kitchen of an American model house over the relative merits of capitalism and socialism. Staged amidst RCA Whirlpool robotic dishwashers, electronic kitchen aids powered by military technology, and canned food, the seminal debate had served to project the kitchen onto the Cold War’s terse political terrains. In sifting through the archives of such historical intersections between the political and the domestic, Prajakta simultaneously opens up porous passages between contemporary constructions of interiority and new fictions of exteriority.
Prajakta received her MFA from J.J. School of Arts in 2001. Her works have been exhibited at several international exhibitions and institutions including Queens Museum, New York (2015), Kunsthaus Langenthal, Zurich (2015), Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2014), Kadist Art Foundation, Paris (2014), "Indian Highway" curated by Julia Peyton Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist at MAXXI, Rome and Lyon Museum of Contemporary Art, Lyon. She received the KFW Stiftung Grant for a Residency at Kunstlerhaus Bethanein, Berlin in 2014.
- Excerpt from When the wind blows, An Essay by Atreyee Gupta in response to the exhibition.
January 13, 2016