Walsh Gallery

Sheba Chhachhi: Winged Pilgrims and Other Creatures


Dates: Mar 27 2009 - Apr 25 2009

Opening Reception: Mar 27 2009

Photographer and installation artist Sheba Chhachhi presents a selection of works from her oeuvre at her first solo with Walsh Gallery. Drawing on a range of formal practices, her works investigate the dynamic interplay between the mythic and the social in the context of gender, the body, urban ecologies, violence and visual culture. Simultaneously watcher and protagonist, Chhachhi inhabits the space between, refusing conventional binaries between activist and artist, the spiritual and the material, the social and the psychic.

Winged Pilgrims: A Chronicle from Asia is Sheba Chhachhi's installation that combines light boxes, sculptures and a specially composed soundtrack to reflect on the processes and effects of globalization, constructing a parable between ancient times and today.

From the 6th Century, pilgrims, texts, mores, myths and artifacts traveled across Asia, with India and China acting as significant nodes in creating a rich Asian cosmopolitanism. Today, mass-produced goods move across the same terrain carrying new forms of globalised culture. The installation maps this movement of ideas through three key elements that are simultaneously material and metaphoric: Birds, the robes of Buddhist Pilgrims and the 'Plasma Action' Electronic T.V. toy of Chinese manufacture. Chhachhi adapts these popular toy TV's to create a series of imaginary moving landscapes, digital tapestries, which weave together Indian sculpture, Chinese brush painting, the Persian miniature and documentary photography.

Warrior/Saint, a video installation presented as a peep show, draws on images of Bollywood heroes gathered from fan sites, screensavers, posters and publicity material. In tandem with the unprecedented increase in violence in every sphere of life, cinematic images of militarized masculinity, equating the heroic and sexually powerful with violence, have become ubiquitous. The work examines the affective implications of the repeated absorption of this construction.

Silver Sap is a suite of seven black and white photographs excerpted from Chhachhi's ongoing recuperation of the female body from dominant market and mediatic representations. A poignant exploration of the sensuality of the ageing, laboring body, the work challenges conventional notions of beauty and identity. Created in collaboration with the subject, these images offer an invitation into an intimacy that is not voyeuristic.

Sheba Chhachhi was born in 1958 in Harar, Ethiopia. Her formal education includes Delhi University, Chitrabani, Calcutta and the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, but she considers herself an autodidact. Her work has been presented in several international biennales, including the forthcoming Moscow Biennale, Singapore Biennale, Fukuoka Asian Triennial and the Havana Biennale. She has exhibited widely in India, Europe, Japan, South America and the U.S.