Soil as witness | Memory as wound is Apnavi Makanji’s first solo exhibition at TARQ. Her wider art practice redefines nature as the centre stage of our existence emphasizing on the processes of life and death and making visible the marginalized, the unnoticed, the forgotten and the hidden. In this exhibition, Makanji presents a series of installations that use a variety of site specific soil as their core medium. The exhibition also includes several watercolour works, and revolves around ideas of memory and home, with a broader horizon that touches migration, identity and human constructs of nature.
The fluid earthy forms in her drawings along with the presence of soil, and its smell, together assert the superiority of nature. They capture the impermanent and transformative order of things with soil acting as the only constant, physical element, deeply connected with memory. The particles of earth that Makanji works with are the only truth and counter point to the erosion/fabrication of memory; serving as a repository for multiple histories. The smell of the soil is a key factor in Makanji’s installation, and becomes a touch stone for viewers of the work to engage their olfactory senses while viewing the show.
The exhibition also includes Makanji’s video work, Keedi which looks at the microscopic shifts and cycles of existence and decay within the environment that go unnoticed. With ants, crows, and other insects as the protagonists of the narrative, this work captures their daily activities and highlights their rejection of the man-made boundaries. Shot over the span of three years in Bombay Port Trust Garden, it reflects the intricate and often uneasy negotiations between the various species that inhabit spaces manicured for human needs.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue essay penned by Dr. Faisal Devji, in his essay, he writes “We are mute spectators of our everyday afterlife seen on the edges of sea and lake, in Makanji’s sinuous yet disjointed images of sand, rubbish, effluent, discarded fish-parts, crow’s feathers and remains. Connecting these quotidian experiences of waste and its recombination to the great ecological crises of our planet, she allows us to see the beauty in our own afterlife—the life of our by-products that continues without us in unplanned and unexpected metastases and metamorphoses.”