Kochi, March 22 A huge sparkling ‘diamond’ made of 10,000 discarded blood slides strung together by stainless steel wire and neatly stacked in a brick-like manner has been the cynosure of all eyes at the Kochi Muziris Biennale being held here.
The creator, Prashant Pandey, has termed the installation “Artha”, a Sanskrit word that refers both to the pursuit of material wealth and the quest for meaning. A diamond is a universal symbol of wealth, power and vanity.
Explaining the theme of his work, Pandey said ‘Artha’ recalls and recounts the countless sacrifices made during successive colonisations and the quest for land, domination, wealth and power.
It hints at the way in which colonialism intertwined religion with economics.
It also raises questions about the price of progress and the relationship between worldly possessions and the purpose of life.
“As I hail from a family of marble sculptors in Jaipur, I used to play with waste marble chips after the sculptures were chiselled. This is how my fascination for discarded materials was born,” said the 30-year-old Pandey.
“My desire has always been to work on the changing ideologies of human emotions. I feel it is my responsibility as an artist to look at byproducts of human activity and to regenerate that waste in order to create something new,” he said.
The artist collected discarded blood slides from unknown people, mostly from Rajasthan, and includes some of his own slides too.
“My interest lies in working with memories and reminiscences of the past. I wanted to use this to represent the history of this beautiful site which is why I used waste blood slides. Blood signifies both life and death, glory and sacrifices in the history of Kochi. ‘Artha’ is an effort at recollecting all memories together in one form,” he said.
Jitish Kallat, curator of the Kochi Muziris Biennale, said that in stark contrast to his family tradition of chipping away at stone to create statues of gods and goddesses, Pandey works with that which is discarded and often ostensibly “impure”.