An exhibition of artist Roohi S. Ahmed’s latest work titled ‘Hermeneutics of the Body’

An exhibition of artist Roohi S. Ahmed’s latest work titled ‘Hermeneutics of the Body’, curated by critic Nafisa Rizvi, opened at the Canvas Gallery on Tuesday.

While the exhibits themselves are worth looking at, the title of the show is intriguing enough to merit a discussion, which may (or may not) simplify the understanding of the artist’s creations.

There is a lot to think about here, which is perhaps the aim of the exhibition. Hermeneutics pertains to quite a few not-so-easy things.

Basically, it is a theory of interpretation.

In its early days it dealt with expressions related to linguistics used to construe religious texts. Later classical traditions also fell under its purview and now, in philosophical terms, it is the science of interpretation.

Keeping this in mind, although what Ms Ahmed has come up with does require a fair bit of interpretation and construing, it is a little knotty to see it through the prism of hermeneutics. Perhaps the wiser among us can do that with no difficulty.

The first pieces on display belong to the ‘Perception’ series (drawing with carbon paper on arches). They make the viewer appreciate the artist’s craft — the tied-up bundle is a metaphor for the experiential factors of existence. The concept of memory and forgetting made famous by Milan Kundera comes into play, well, sort of. But it is when the exhibition reaches the ‘Body Impressions’ series (hand and mouth impressions on carbon paper) that the subject matter becomes clearer. The hand and the mouth are two organs of the human body through which one can communicate thoughts or feelings and opt for resistance or submission. Since the nature of the exhibits is such that the viewer has to narrow his/her eyes to see them, interpretation is not readily forthcoming. The ‘Hands On’ series (drawing with carbon paper and colour pencil on arches) takes the issue to another level, where a similar theme is treated in a less recondite way. In between the two series the artist presents ‘Blue Field’ and ‘Red Field’ (construction with carbon paper) which actually teases the viewer’s field of vision.

And, as if by a logical conclusion, the display culminates in ‘Consciousness’ (drawing with carbon paper on Stonehenge paper).

The noteworthy aspect of her work is the effort that has gone into creating it. The rubbing of the carbon paper with hand to get a certain desired result is no mean achievement.

The exhibition will continue till Feb 16.
(Dawn News)

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