Kiran Subbiah is a dinosaur who is still awake

Kiran Subbaiah’s video work at NGV Triennial

By Neena Badhwar

Two Indian artists who are exhibiting their works at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) Triennial, a large-scale exhibition of international contemporary art, design and architecture, featuring 87 projects by more than 100 artists, designers and collectives from 30 countries, are Kiran Subbaiah and Siji Krishnan. The exhibition opens in December 2020 and runs until April 2021.

NGV Curator Dr Simon Maidment. Pic. Portraits of Kaws, aka Brain Donnelley

Simon Maidment, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Victoria, says why he chose Kiran’s film, “Kiran Subbaiah often uses humour and irony to draw out his observations of the world and question the relationship between function and value. Subbaiah works across media including photography, video, sculpture and installation. Created sporadically over five years,  Narcissicon, 2012, is a whimsical single channel video work that features the likeness of Subbaiah playing multiple versions of himself, presented through doppelgangers and mirror reflections. The artist’s studio provides the setting for exploration and wonder as the piece plays out in a space of magical realism.”

Simon finds Kiran’s work significant because it contains texts from fourteen long years which took five years to complete depicting a longform self-reflection by the artist, a rumination that one might suggest underpins his creative practice across that long period of time. “It inspires the liminal state (half-awake, half-asleep),   the work mimics a daydream, which is also reflected in its form as the 43-minute video runs on a continuous loop without a definitive beginning or end.”

TIDU put some questions to Kiran who says he would love to come to Melbourne, if he could:

Q.: Can you remember the last dream you had?

Kiran: I was awake, and am still living it. I’m a dinosaur.

Q: What is the work about or what might viewers experience through the work?

Kiran: Hopefully something I did not intend, and can never imagine.

Q:   We’ve heard this work has been five years in the making. Could you describe how that journey has been?

Kiran: An ordeal unworthy of recount. It’s a relief to have come out on the other side with only the remains.

Q: How have your thoughts on the work changed over this time?

Kiran: The need to get as far away from myself as possible is reinforced.

Q: Have you been able to come to Victoria to set up the piece? If not, what has the process been like to set up work remotely?

Kiran: That’s what I mean. I need to be there. I’ll be able to come. Please send me an air ticket.

Q: Do you have any thoughts for or about people spending long periods of time with themselves indoor these days?

Kiran: Yes. Let’s think about something else.

Q: How many Kiran Subbaiahs does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Kiran: Is it gigantic? How many it can hold. More than 8 Charles Rays?




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