Art exhibition uncovers the museum from within

New Delhi, Nov 2 (IANS) Museums play a major role in conservation and collection of cultural objects. Drawing from the disciplines of cartography, archaeology and design, an ongoing art exhibition dwells on the position and function of museums.

Donning the mantles of archaeologist, museum curator and conservator, Debasish Mukherjee re-imagines these roles and reconstructs architecture and objects from his past to raise questions around preservation and neglect.

The exhibition, titled “The Museum Within” that showcases Mukherjee’s sculptures and installations, is on view the at Akar Prakar Art Advisory in Hauz Khas Village till November 5.

The exhibition proposes alternative forms of inquiry into the preservation of Indian heritage. It questions if Indian museums aptly serve as custodians of our culture and collective identity and if our historical sites deserve more respect as emblems of social history.

“The Museum Within is a gathering of my personal observations of our rich heritage, historical sites and museums of India. This body of work, created between 2015 and 2016 is a result of all that I have seen in the past, admired and wanted to conserve in my own way through my Art,” Mukherjee told IANS.

“At times I wonder why some organizations don’t play a more vital role in the preservation of these sites and objects and what is more disturbing is that even we don’t respect or regard our heritage but treat them merely as ruins instead,” he added.

From time immemorial, the humble clay has remained one of the most popular materials to be shaped by human hands into objects of utility, beauty and spirituality.

According to the artist, “the material signifies living history. Widely used in India, it still makes the brick that holds our shelters up, a variety of household vessels as well as religious idols for ceremonies.”

The artist’s series of sculpted terracotta pots sit on layers of paper, modeled into square units that appear symbolically aged by the markings of time. Miniaturized plots of sites, the boxed contents urge circumambulation or a parikrama as though of a sacred shrine that belongs to a distant past but one that informs our current social and cultural history.