Shreyas Karle, “Vastusangralaya ki Dukaan” or “Museum Shop of Fetish Objects”
Karle’s piquant “Empty Studio” solo at Mumbai’s Project88 had us in splits with its quiet sarcasm and its wit, qualities that camethrough most emphatically in works like “This Projector Does Not Work”, whichfeatured the title’s text screened against the wall by an obviously functional projector, the tag-line which was something to the effect of ‘from the pool of last-minute ideas’ being the bottom-line. However, it was his “Museum Shop of Fetish Objects”, a work that was shown as part of “Project Cinema City”, an immense show celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema curated byMadhushree Datta, that we
delighted in for its play of cultural references, the brilliant way it locates itself within the context of Bollywood while referencing a post-cinema era, and how it tactfully hints at the various perversities and kinks that have been embedded in our popular visual culture. “A speculative museum of cinema at the time of post-cinema,” the installation highlights fetishes foregrounded by Bollywood, using the human anatomy, garments, props, home décor and spoken words to create sculptural objects cast in brass, copper, and aluminum. The objects, along with sketches, scribbles, diaries, and found images, are displayed in a museum-like setting.
Among the quirky ‘objects’ on display were a bottle labeled Ma Ka Dudh (mother’s milk), a tip-off to Bollywood’s motherly fixations; a multi-religion brass pendant depicting simultaneously the spire of a church, a temple tower, and the dome of the mosque, an allusion to the cosmopolitan nature of India’s film industry; and a wire hangar with long
horizontal spikes meant to hold up the large cups of a female lead’s dress.