Camouflage by Valsan Koorma Kolleri

Address: Mumbai Port Trust Garden, Behind Sassoon Docks, WG Union Road, Opposite Colaba Bus Station, Colaba, Bombay: 400005
Dates: February 12-20, 2013
Garden timings: 6 am-11 am and 4.30 pm-8.30 pm

Artist’s talk and presentation

Address: Studio X Mumbai, 4th floor, Kitab Mahal, DN Road, Fort, Bombay: 400001
Time & Date: 5-7 pm, February 13, 2013

It takes a couple of seconds for the eyes to settle down and distinguish background from foreground or vice versa. Once the eyes are at home with the image, you realise that this green-on-green image is sheltering a fantastic fugitive. The chance positioning of the creature on a thick spread of grass, the documentation that followed and finally the image that was found floating online, each contributed to Valsan’s Leaf, Let Into Earth, 2010, becoming the starting point of Camouflage.

Stone, bronze, coconut palm fronds, steel and twigs are just some of the materials that’ve been marked present in Valsan’s distinguished roster of materials. Despite being regularly interspersed across his oeuvre, the artist’s ephemeral artworks, with special focus on sustainability, continue to be under the radar, where they’ve been held hostage by a market system that values, the seemingly inexhaustible physicality of works made from hardier stuff such as bronze. The easily weathered works have been consistently seen as downtime extracurriculars performed in either the public or the artist’s private domain and then swept away.

The Mumbai Port Trust Garden was the immediate site of choice for this project because it resonates with, among other things, the thematic of camouflage. Despite being a rare green patch, the public garden has, thus far, used the nondescriptness of its facade to camouflage itself against the city where it positions itself as a public secret.

The project comprises a sequence of site-specific interventions and ephemeral works made from a combination of found and procured matter taken from nature and scattered across the premises of the garden. In both these instances, concealment is sought. Camouflage can be critical when it comes to tackling the bigness of urbanity; it allows one the possibility of stillness and the energy to be exhausted.

Outside of the theme of camouflage there’s the logic of the medium and Valsan is alway interested in extending this by pushing for the ontology of the material as best he can. Translating encrypted experiences of easily-weathered matter he focuses on perishability, recycling and sustainable practices.

– Gitanjali Dang

Supported by: Studio X Mumbai and All India Association of Industries (AIAI)

Captions/ Details: Clockwise from featured image
I) Valsan Koorma Kolleri, Untitled, 2013
II) Valsan Koorma Kolleri, Untitled, 2013
III) Valsan Koorma Kolleri at work on site
IV-VI) Installation view