Anjali Deshmukh
Statement and Info
Tell Me The Story of a Lifetime. Installation. 70"x85". 2012.
Lila, or the cosmic game, is as much about the physical environment as it is about our perception of it. Tell Me the Story of a Lifetime is the foil to
Out of Bounds. On the wall is a magnetized square, gridded with neodymium magnets. Across the grid are written 289 unique events or human experiences. The events are categorized by ‘type’ in a counter clockwise spiral pattern from the innermost center squares out to the top left edge. In the center are the existential experiences, followed by experiences of the mind. Then come physiological, active and passive experiences of the body and the social experiences. There are about 200 red magnetic paper forms scattered across the board—game pieces. Each piece on the game board is stamped with a number that corresponds to one of 930 emotions referenced in the frames to the right of the board. These emotions are grouped into families, from the most dark and negative of emotions to the most positive of emotions. Each red game piece, assigned a number, references an emotion.

In the game’s theory, the players are attempting to construct the ideal life out of the events on the board. Players have a limited number of emotions, and fate— randomness, the spinning of the wheel — forces them to move towards a certain event. In one iteration of the game, I apply post-rational formalism by asking the audience—players— to select two numbers, representing an event and an emotion. They do not know what pairing they have selected. Their lottery numbers, the matching of each players’ event and emotion, become the seed of individual works of fiction that I am responsible for writing narratives around. Thus, the installation becomes a kind of engine or generator that powers patterns (fiction) radiating out.

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Yamuna 1 and 2. Mixed Media Installations. 2012.
These two pieces explore social masking, to examine the environmental problems of Delhi. In the first piece, two kadahi (Indian deep frying pots) were installed on two shelves in the Engendered Gallery's bathroom. The top kadahi was filled with diesel. There was a hole drilled in the bottom of the pot and the shelf, with a cotton wick from which the diesel dripped into the bottom kadahi. In the bottom kadahi was a pool of musk ittar (natural perfume of the Islamic tradition) floating in water. Swimming in the bottom kadahi was an effigy of the well-known Bollywood actor Salman Khan, his portrait glued to the head of a blond doll. In the second piece, yellow and purple water fill clear plastic tubing wrapped around the Engendered Gallery's roof water tank. A kadahi of rose ittar is resting under the faucet of the tank.

The sense of smell became associated with illness and bodily dysfunction in the 18th century; in fact, the term 'malaria' is derived from the phrase 'mala aria' or 'bad air'. Perfume is in and of itself a mask and tool for attraction. Blending the smell with a seedy, feminized pop star drowning in a frying pan filled with perfume oil references the underbelly of social objects of adoration we consume or aspire to be, particularly given that ittar was originally used by royalty. In Delhi, cut into two by a sacred, polluted river emanating its own miasma, smell takes on another kind of political function related to what lies below— the unresolved environmental problems of Delhi and the Yamuna— while also creating an ironic link between religious and Bollywood icons.

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Light Tests. Installations. 2012.
These are early light tests for a longer term game using electricity. 100 individual, home-made, battery operated lights are re-arranged across different landscapes to test space and light dynamics outdoors. Each light is water sealed in a container with an opaque coat of glow in the dark paint diffusing the light. 

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