Storm Deities (Maruts) by Vishal K. Dar presented by The Gujral Foundation at the 11th Shanghai Biennale
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Storm Deities (Maruts) by Vishal K. Dar presented by The Gujral Foundation at the 11th Shanghai Biennale
Installation shot of Storm Deities (Maruts) by Vishal K Dar at the 11th Shanghai Biennale 2016 -7. Photo: Vishal K Dar.

SHANGHAI.- The Gujral Foundation, a philanthropic endeavour for the arts initiated in 2008, has firmly established itself as a dynamic force for the support and promotion of Indian and South Asian contemporary art both in India, and across the globe. Recent projects include exhibitions and collaborations with leading institutions such as The Guggenheim, The British Museum, the Berlin Biennale, the Kochi Muziris Biennale, and the Venice Art Biennale.

Pursuing the objective of creating and facilitating such opportunities for leading artists on the international art scene, The Gujral Foundation is presenting Storm Deities (Maruts), a new site-specific and immersive light installation by Indian artist Vishal K Dar. The work has been installed in the iconic chimney of the Power Station of Art at the 11th Shanghai Biennale, on display until 12 March 2017.

In the belly of a 165 metre tall industrial chimney of an old defunct thermal power station in Shanghai, Dar reimagines Maruts, the storm deities (the Rig Veda describes Maruts as a troop of young warriors, companions of Indra, the God of Clouds; Storm Deities, capable of shaking mountains and destroying forests). Seven oscillating beams of light set to varying metronomic meters create a hallucinatory zone, each beam of light an object with a distinct time-code.

The base of the chimney is transformed into a reflective pool and viewers experience Maruts from a spiral ramp inside the chimney, accessed through the main building of the Power Station of Art. The notion of presence, of being in the midst of the work, is central to the experience of Maruts. Visitors access the chimney structure from the 20m level bridge directly into the chimney and then spiral down to the base for the exit.

Vishal K. Dar comments, “The site-specific installation activates the space; it investigates place-making through the viewers’ presence who witness Maruts. It is a world made of time; like time, it plays with cognitive illusions, as a world of impressions; a world without architecture; a world of shifting space. Each beam of oscillating light is an object without purpose. Maruts could be a lovers’ garden; it could be a storm that is brewing between somewhere and nowhere.”

The Gujral Foundation has been a mentor and a supporter of Vishal K Dar since 2011. His practice extends outside the gallery often into abandoned and challenging sites. Using diverse mediums, light is a recurring motif and has been powerfully harnessed in many of his works including this one.

The theme for the 11th Shanghai Biennale curated by Indian-based artists Raqs Media Collective is Why Not Ask Again? Maneuvers, Disputations & Stories. Their invitation to artists is nothing short of a provocation to respond to the task of a re-imagining of the world and Vishal K. Dar is one of thirty nine artists selected to make this response.

Feroze Gujral, Founder/Director, The Gujral Foundation, comments: “Storm Deities (Maruts) is an immersive, multi-sensory installation that stimulates the viewer to experience intuitively the conflict between human creation and the uncontrollable power of Nature. It is also a homage to the ancient cultural roots that spread from India throughout Europe and Asia: the ancient Vedic Mythology, reinvented as an instrument to shine new light on our tradition and identity”

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Storm Deities (Maruts) by Vishal K. Dar presented by The Gujral Foundation at the 11th Shanghai Biennale

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